Rock n Roll

Rock n Roll Jive


A newbie question, and I'm guessing this is the right forum to post this in, apologies in advance if I'm wrong! :)

What exactly is rock n roll jive? I know it's different from modern jive (CeRoc, Leroc...) but how is it different from what is simply called 'jive' Is it the same dance called 'rock and roll' It'd be great if you could point me to some online info which talks about it. A google revealed a lot of noise but little of value in clearing this up.

I'm planning to learn jive so I want to be prepared when I decide which classes to join.


Well-Known Member
Hi 2br02b! Welcome to the forums. :D I don't know much about this topic, but you might want to check the thread French Jive and Le Roc. There's a bit of information there. From what I've been able to decipher, LeRoc or Ceroc (depending on which club you go to) has evolved along totally different lines than the balroom jive as done in dance competitions.

And, from what I can tell, it's difficult to find instruction in LeRoc outside of Europe. Not sure where you are, but if you're not in Europe, chances are the jive classes you're being offered are ballroom jive.
Hi Pygmalion

Thanks for the pointer to the thread. From what I understand French jive/Modern jive/Ceroc/LeRoc are all the same. And since I live in India I'm unlikely to ever see them being performed, let alone taught :p

What I'd like to is how the dance called "rock n roll jive" is related to the dances called
- "jive"
- "ballroom jive"
- "rock n roll"

Can anyone help me on this?
I wish I could help, but I don't know enough about LeRoc to tell you how if at all it is related to Rock and Roll.

Perhaps one of our European dancers will enlighten us.
And I was counting on you for help d_nice, especially after reading your excellent 'Evolution of Swing Dancing and Music - a brief overview' thread :wink:

Actually, going by the fact that so many hits for "rock n roll jive" on the web are from sites, I hope that somebody from the UK can help me.


Well-Known Member
Well, I believe that UK/French jive/ le Roc/ Ce Roc, whatever, can be danced to a wide variety of music. It follows that rock n roll jive is just the name for the European jive moves that can be danced to rock n' roll.

Frodo is from UK so try and get in touch with him?? He probably knows more a lot more then I do. If you don't get an answer by next week I'll try and pick the brains of the French girl in ballroom class who piqued my interest in jive variations by saying she could not dance American/ballroom jive when the music was played during the club social hour.


Staff member
Sagitta said:
It follows that rock n roll jive is just the name for the European jive moves that can be danced to rock n' roll.
Hmm, I'm not so sure about this... rock n' roll is actually the name of a dance category over in Europe that seems to be a couples dancing cross of aerobics and aerials (many of the cheerleading style variety).
Acrobatic Rock and Roll is actually not a social swing dance, it is a sport that was inspired by the European dance Rock and Roll. It is partnered arcrobatics (as in circus/gymnastics/cheer manuevers) and while there is music playing and a "basic step" it has about as much musical interpretation as a gymnasts floor routine.

My focus is on the American development of swing dancing, but my understanding is that Modern Jive, Le Roc, and the non-acrobatic form of Rock and Roll is that they are all inspired by the lindy hop brought to Europe by the American military.

I know UK Jive in its street form was a direct descendant of the soldiers Lindy Hop. Le Roc and Rock and Roll are both newer dances, I'm not sure how much UK Jive had to do with them.


Well-Known Member
Hey d nice! I think what you're calling UK jive is the same as what I'm calling ballroom jive. And from what I've read, yes, the dance evolved from the swing dancing that American GI's left behind after WWII.

The jive that international Latin dancers know and love is just a regimented, syllabus'ed (I KNOW that's not a word LOL!) version of that dance. BTW I don't know jive, yet. I've taken a class or two of course, but for now, I'm a lowly American rhythm dancer! :lol:


Staff member
Good info d nice, as always... and it underscores my reservations regarding the following comment:
Sagitta said:
It follows that rock n roll jive is just the name for the European jive moves that can be danced to rock n' roll.
This may be the case... or it may not.

Having seen what you're terming acrobatic rock n' roll (there they just called it rock n' roll) in Germany last summer (2002)* I have to agree that it is a distant relative, at best, of what most people would consider partner dancing of any variety.

* I did, however, see a world record set in "shoulder balls"... :!: :?
A really long post. Read at your peril.

Here are snippets from various sites on the internet defining forms of Jive. Make of it what you will. I've ignored French/Modern/Ceroc/Leroc.

None of this tells me where Rock nRoll Jive falls, though :(

Jive, brought over from America has been initially developed from a dance called "Jitterburg" by eliminating all its acrobatic elements and polishing the technique. The first description of Jive made by London dance teacher Victor Silvester was published in Europe in 1944. The Boogie, Rock & Roll and the American Swing also influenced this dance.
Jive is a very fast, energy-consuming dance. It is the last dance danced at the competitions, and dancers have to show that having dance four dances they are not tired yet and still ready to go hard at it.

The music has the time signature of 4/4 and the beats may be accented on ‘1’ and ‘3’, or ‘2’ and ‘4’, or all the four beats. The ideal tempo is 40 to 46 bars per minute.

The two rhythms that form the basis of jive are:
a) 1, 2, 3, &, 4
b) 1, 2, 3, &, 4, 3, &, 4

1, 2 is the Rock Step and 3, &, 4 the Jive Chasse. The group or three steps, the Chasse, can be taken forward, backward, sideways (to the left or right), and turning (to the left or right). The feet are never together on the count ‘&’, although when practising one should endeavour to keep them as close to each other as possible. The step on the count ‘3’ is large as compared to the one for the count ‘4’. The movement of the feet should is small.

All the steps are on the ball of the foot and the heel is always just of the floor. The weight of the body is kept slightly forward with the knees flexed naturally. The hip is relaxed to allow it to swing naturally towards the foot taking the body weight.

Thus, every step is on the ball of the foot with the knee flexed. As the weight transfers on the foot the heel lowers (however, it does not rest on the floor), the knee straightens and the hips move softly in the direction of the stepping foot. At the same time, the heel of the opposite foot rises further from the floor. This movement is less pronounced on the counts ‘3’ and even lesser on the count ‘&’.
Swing (the big band sound of the 30s/40s) was the music to which Lindy Hop was originally danced, but today in America the term is used more loosely, with the same meaning that Jive has in Britain - as a general term for the many different varities of swing dance, whether danced to Swing, Jazz or Rock'n'Roll. Jive is also commonly associated with Ballroom Jive, a very stylized dance based on the six-beat count of Lindy Hop.

Rock n Roll
In dancing schools, Rock'n'Roll was disapproved of for a long time. Rock'n'Roll was danced with devotion in discotheques and dusky bars...In the beginning of the seventies, Rock'n'Roll had a comeback - in 1975 the German Rock'n'Roll federation was founded, turning the dance in a well-ordered way. The jump step, which is compulsory at dancing competitions since then, altered Rock'n'Roll from a life style to a type of sport. But the fascination of the music remained, even when new songs in 4/4-time replaced the songs of Bill Haley or Chuck Berry.
When Bill Haley had his surprise record hit with 'Rock Around The Clock', Hollywood cashed in with an exploitation film of the same name in 1956. When asked in the film, one of the dancers says they are dancing the "Rock and Roll" (when in fact it was nothing but good old Jitterbug that some of the key dancers had originally learned as the Lindy Hop). Professional dance studios, including Arthur Murray, jumped on the bandwagon and started teaching the same dance as 'Rock'n'Roll' in order to cash in on the new interest aroused by the film. The East Coast dance establishment refused, however, to call the dance anything other than the original Jitterbug / Lindy Hop names and eventually the West Coast gave in and abandoned its use. Once again, the Europeans were left with the term "Rock 'n' Roll" after the Americans stopped using it, so that 50's Jitterbug is known interchangeably in Europe as "Jive" or "Rock'n'Roll", whereas in America a compromise definition evolved which described all the Rock music from the 1960's onwards as "Rock 'n' Roll" as in the Stones "It's Only Rock'n' Roll But I Like it!"
When Bill Haley's film Rock Around the Clock came out in 1956, the kids were dancing Rock'n'Roll. The moves were the same eight-beat Lindy Turns, six-beat basics and twisting steps that the Jitterbugs had done a few years earlier. But bands and dance floors were becoming smaller, the style of music and even the dancers' clothes changed, so, the dance followed: it became simplified, less structured, but just as exciting. And its name was Rock'n'Roll.

Latin Jive
In the slang of Africans the term "Jive" (as Jazz or Funk) means sexual emotions or ecstasy. As a successor of Jitterbug and Boogie-Woogie, Jive was brought to Europe by American soldiers about 1940. Jive evolved in Great Britain and was finally integrated into the Latin dance competition program. Jive music shows its African origin with its off-beat-accentuation at beat 2 and 4. Jive expresses the robust joys of life. It has been the 'rave' dance of the pre-Beat-generation and has been the origin of acrobatic athletic Rock'n'Roll.

Today Jive is the internationally accepted word used to describe a dance with multiple predecessors of Afro-American origin. Lindy Hop, Blues and Swing are members of this family from the beginning of the thirties, Boogie, Jitterbug and Bebop in the forties, followed by Rock'n'Roll in the fifties. As a characteristic element for all these dancing forms, the stimulating music has fascinated dancers of all ages with its rhythmic accentuation.

About 1940 American soldiers brought these USA-based dances to Europe. They became popular in a short time because of the open motion style together with acrobatic jumps. Boogie was the dominating music after the war, but it often was refused as an ordinary dance. Therefore a moderate form had to be found in order to make this dancing style socially acceptable. British dancing instructors developed the elegant and even vivid Jive with a slower music. In 1968 Jive was accepted in fifth place of the Latin competition dances.

Basic Movement
Change of Places
American Spin
Rolling Off the Arm
Toe Heel Swivel
This site has these moves under Latin Jive
1. Jive Basic In Place
2. Fallaway Rock
3. Fallaway Throwaway
4. Link
5. Change of Places R to L
6. Change of Places L to R
7. Change of Hands Behind Back
8. Hip Bump (Left Shoulder Shove)

Ballroom Jive
Worried by the avalanche of new ballroom dances during the late 1950's, the people who run the British Ballroom Competitions decided to analyse and produce syllabuses for some of the most currently popular dances around in order to attract new young dancers to the competition scene. "Ballroom Jive" is the UK name for the specific competition style of Jitterbug developed by the dance-teaching establishment. Characterised by a 'chassis' from side to side and a back replace, this style accentuates the pumping action of the knees, as dancers shift their weight in the chassis. Included as the "American" part of the "Latin & American Dance Categories", it is widely danced today. Simplified versions are taught all over as basic Lindy Hop and Jitterbug, (which it isn't), or as East Coast Swing.
Swing (the big band sound of the 30s/40s) was the music to which Lindy Hop was originally danced, but today in America the term is used more loosely, with the same meaning that Jive has in Britain - as a general term for the many different varities of swing dance, whether danced to Swing, Jazz or Rock'n'Roll. Jive is also commonly associated with Ballroom Jive, a very stylized dance based on the six-beat count of Lindy Hop.
History And Origins
Jive is the ballroom version of the Jitterbug (ECS), developed in Britain in the 1960's.

Basic Footwork And Variations
Ballroom Jive is a partnered dance, danced in both open and closed danceholds. Jive is danced to 4/4 music, with a (competitive) tempo of 44 bars per minute [Latin American Jive].

Footwork is normally based on the six beat basic: the leader's steps are backwards (left), rock (right), chassé (left-right-left), chassé (right-left-right), but can be varied: backwards (left), rock (right), step (left), step (right), or backwards (left), rock (right), step (left), tap (left), step (right), tap(right), or backwards (left), rock (right), tap (left), step (left), tap(right), step (right) -- the follower mirrors.

More complex footwork can also be seen, particularly in competitive ballroom dancing: kick (left), ball (left), change (right), kick (left), step (left), kick (right), step (right).

From the relationship between the dance steps and the musical structure, we can see that the six-beat pattern moves in and out of sequence with the musical four-beat bars. The Jive steps move within the music in a six bar pattern (24 beats match 6 complete 4-beat bars of music and match 4 complete 6-beat Jive basics), in contrast to Lindy Hop 8-beat moves. Hence, some classes will start with a triple-step (left-right-left) and some with a back rock (left-right),

Body Position And Legs
Body position is "tall" and upright. The footwork is fast and light, but any kicks (and knee positions) are lower than in Continental Rock and Roll. The leader remains static in position, with the follower moving around him.

Standardisation And Organisations
Ballroom Jive moves and styling are standardised by organisations like the ISTD, or the IDTA. :( :( :(
I’ve just come across this thread before it is relegated to wherever, and noticed that no one from Europe has contributed, which I have to admit is not helpful. From a London perspective, perhaps I can contribute?

The basic issue is that “jive” is most generally (i.e. there are exceptions) used as the generic term for all Lindy originated styled dance forms. Thus it is the equivalent of “swing dance” when used in the same way. There is “Rock’n’Roll Jive” a self taught style by street kids devised after seeing the Bill Haley films in 1956 and still danced by a 50’s Retro scene here that is considerably bigger than the Swing scene, and the older generations that are still able to dance the favourite dance of their youth! There is “Skip-Jive” – with a kind of New Orleans beat that is danced to Traditional (Dixieland) Jazz music and dates back to the same 1950’s. “Ballroom Jive” – the six count style as defined by Walter Laird as part of the “Latin and American” category of competitive dance forms, which is sometimes abbreviated to “jive” by lazy commentators who thus tend to be the cause of confusion about the name, and more recent innovations to the British scene such as Ceroc and Modern Jive. Although the introduction of the Lindy Hop/Jitterbug to the UK pre-dates the arrival of American troops as someone suggested (the first UK “Jitterbug” championships were held in 1939!) it is true that the GI’s had a huge impact on dance across Europe and when they left after WW2 (i.e. there was a gap in a number of countries before they started returning again in large numbers to do with the Cold War) a variety of national forms of Lindy/Jitterbug began to appear in the major European countries – UK, France, Germany etc which evolved into a variety of largely national forms today, especially during the 1950’s craze for Rock’n’Roll music. Some of these national styles influenced each other, but some didn’t. In general though they are still known as “jive”.

It is perhaps worth noting that the name itself is American. From 1942 to 1955 the New York Harvest Moon Lindy dance championship formerly known as the “Lindy Hop” was renamed “Jitterbug Jive.” I’ve read a number of US press items from this period that talk about “jive” like the Europeans continued to do. However that’s another story. The main thing is not to take it that “ballroom jive” represents “jive” in its entirety. That version of “jive” only came into existence after the majority of young people had moved onto the twist etc, and thus “ballroom jive” was presented as a “superior” version of the dance, as danced by “experts”. Walter Laird told me that himself! That remains a highly debateable proposition though.

Back at the beginning of the 1980's when there was no swing scene in the UK and I was wondering how to get it started, I was confronted by the associated dilemmas concerning the different UK/US meanings of the word "Jive" and the fact that the term "Lindy Hop" had almost completely fallen out of use on this side of the Atlantic. Having decided with Warren Heyes that the best way forward in the UK context was the creation of a professional dance company that could reasonably emulate the great Lindy Hopers of the Swing Era, we devised the name of “The Jiving Lindy Hoppers” to bridge this gap in understanding. UK audiences knew what "jive" mean't whilst we began to make the term "Lindy Hop" familiar once more. It turned out to be surprisingly easy to make it known once more across the UK! Since then we’ve even had people trying to argue that “Jiving Lindy Hopping” is another type of “jive!”

My final point is that we had no idea until we first arrived in NY in 1985 to track down some of the “unknown” Lindy maestros that “Jive” also meant “fake” or “put on” in American! But it was too late to make changes, and when we told Americans the name of the company we usually got a laugh, and considering the company has been professionally performing since 1987, that can’t be bad!


Well-Known Member
Welcome to the forums Terry!! Glad to have you with us. Fascinating reading. While I'm not into swing in general I do it on ocassion.

Oh, and by the way, thanks for reposting what you had on the old forum. :D


New Member
Another European perspective from a Modern Jive dancer! I hope it's useful. I've copied some of this from a post I made in Websites section and I apologise for its length!.

Modern Jive is the generic name for a style of dance that developed in the UK in the 70s. Legend has it that when the Beatles killed off partner dancing in the mid 60s the French kept the candle alight and, by a process of evolution, the old "rock 'n' roll" jive of Bill Hayley days was simplified into what we know as Modern or French Jive. Essentially, the six-beat pattern of rock & roll (frequently danced kick-step, kick-step, back-step) vanished and the dance became slower and even-tempo. More time allowed the moves to become more complex and Modern Jivers started stealing moves and styling from every other form of dance - it is a real "magpie" dance! (I've never danced French Jive in France so I've no idea what they do now - any French contributors?)

Modern Jive has lots of names. The word "Ceroc" is actually the registered trademark of a franchise operation. In certain parts of the UK and, I believe, Australia a fair number of dance classes are operated under the Ceroc umbrella. The most common generic term for the dance is "Modern Jive" but the names of sundry other franchises, federations and other generic terms are also used to describe the dance. If you come across LeRoc, Mo'Jive, French Jive, or anything that sounds kind of "Frenchified" and includes "rock" they are probably referring to Modern Jive.

One of the great attractions of Modern Jive is that it is very accessible to people just starting to dance. There is no emphaisis on footwork (although the LeRoc Federation do teach footwork for beginner moves), even-tempo is easy to cope with and it is very heavily moves based. As a consequence it makes for a good dance business - good throughput of beginners. You can also dance it to a vast range of music - modern chart, swing, latin, you name it. The normal class format is a 50 minute beginner class, 20 minute freestyle, 40 minute intermediate class then 1 hour freestyle - that seems pretty standard and classes rotate. Advanced classes are rare but we're lucky in Exeter and have a second night each week with intermediate and advanced classes (alternating moves one week, technique the next) plus monthly workshops. There are dance weekends throughout the year - 1800 people at Bognor in January.

Once you get past the "performing a complex sequence of moves in time to music" stage then Modern Jive becomes endlessly fascinating. The lack of proscription and "magpie" nature of the dance means that you can pretty much do what you like. That freedom can be a bit scary but when you see the really good dancers "playing" with their partner and the music it is just fantastic. It's a great dance.

Modern Jive sometimes gets criticised for being just moves - you signal a move, go through the required motion and then signal the next. That may be true in some classes and I have danced with people from a Ceroc class who considered that I didn't do moves "properly" because I change them to suit the music and the mood. But that kind of criticism seems pretty unusual.

I love the freedom to play and the fact that I can dance with a partner to pretty much anything. I hope that has been helpful!

I used to know the answer to this, but can't remember. What is the dance called Rock n Roll? Is it basically just the name for East Coast Swing in Europe?
Rock'n'Roll can be several different things. It can be Boogie Woogie like, East Coast like or the acrobatic coreographed showdance where the basic is the nine step basic with high kicks and lots of aerials (at top level, double ... don't know the english word, but the woman is thrown into the air, then revolves around her body forward or backwards.)

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