Standard Whip (with a digression on Frame)

The position just before
stepping on count 2...

The position just before
stepping on count 3...

Lady should "hit" the end of
the gent's reach (the end
of the slot) but not with
such force as would pull
him forward

The lady walks foward and
back on an imaginary straight
line and ideally the man
will get of her way. Only
if the man is slow should
the lady go around him.

Like a toreador, the gent
moves out of the slot
and allows the lady to pass

In the standard whip, or simply whip, both the gent and the lady do the same stepping rhythm, though as usual they start on different feet. Note that the steps from counts 1 to 4 ((1)Step (2)Step (3)Tri-(&)ple-(4)Step) are the same as those for counts 5 through 8.

Later, we will show how either the gent or the lady can vary the footwork, but for now let's keep it simple.

The most important count in the whip sequence is 2. On 1, the lady knows that she is to walk forward because of the gentle pull on her hand from the man. As far as she knows at this point, the move could be a sugar push, underarm turn or almost anything.

On 2, the gent steps off the track to his left and at the same time, swings the lady's right arm to her right causing her to turn sideways. If the lady has a somewhat stiff right arm as she is supposed to, she will turn sideways naturally and immediately. If she does not have a somewhat stiff arm, she will be slower to respond to the lead. Frame, or stiff arms, or what are sometimes called "doll arms" (inflexible), give the lady the earliest signal as to what is being led.

As the lady turns sideways, the man catches her back with his right hand and arm. All of this occurs on the "walk walk" of counts 1-2.

A digression on frame: Let's hold it there on count 2 and say a few more words about frame. When we spoke above about having a somewhat stiff arm, we were referring to what in dance parlance is called "Frame". "Frame" refers to the tension or stiffness or rigidity that a dance couple maintain in their arms. Frame is good! It allows the leader to communicate to the follower in the quickest fashion what he intends to lead. "Doll arms" is sometimes used to explain frame. A doll's arms are inflexible so that if the arm is turned to the side, the entire doll will turn to the side. Above on count 2, when the lady's right arm is swung to her right, if she maintains proper frame, her whole body will turn immediately. She does not have to think or see where she is being led to go or do, but she will feel it. Good frame comes gradually and takes a long time to develop because at the same time that the arms are firm, the body is relaxed.

Is it possible to have too much tension or stiffness in the arms, to "overframe" so to speak? Yes. Even though for simplicity's sake it was described above using "inflexible", "stiff", "doll arms" and "rigidity", it is something less than that. If one suggested that frame was relaxed tension, that would be a good description, but would leave the dance student with the task of figuring out what that meant in a flesh and blood context. So, we will leave that to you to work out how much is enough. Digression over.

Back to the standard whip: On counts 3 - 4, the man triple steps back into the slot, and on 5-6 he moves out of the slot (out of the lady's way) and the lady walks back to where she started and -- of course -- triple steps in place on 7&8. Here's the annotated graphic on the standard whip:


8-Count west coast swing (8 counts, 10 steps)
with Whip Annotations in Red

Counts
------>

one
two
three
four
five
six
seven
eight

Men Do
------>
(start left)

Walk
(left)
("back")
Walk
(right)
("cross off of slot")
Tri-ple-step
(left-right-left)
("to other side of slot")
Walk
(right)

Walk
(left)
("back in slot")
Tri-ple step
(right-left-right)

Women Do
------>
(start right)

Walk (right)
Walk (left)

Tri-ple-step (right-left-right) Walk (left)("back")Walk (right)("back") Tri-ple-step (left-right-left)

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