History of Whip 1
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Sleazy Bar Whip Party 201 Nights Garner State Park History of Whip Four Palms

The Story of the Texas Whip!
(plus its long-lost companion dance, 
the West Coast Swing!!)

Written by Rick Archer, SSQQ, 1998


The Whip is a sexy Swing partner dance that originated right here in the heart of Texas.

Also known as Push in the Dallas area, the Whip is quite similar to the national dance known as the West Coast Swing.  This is no surprise since in a way the Whip and the West Coast Swing are long-lost brothers.  They were both born in California, but  were separated at birth. 

whip_babe.jpg (5627 bytes)

The Whip traces its roots to a bunch of Texas-born GI's who returned home 
from California after the long fight of World War II.

The Whip was spawned in the dives, bars, honky-tonks, and western joints that surrounded the Texas oil fields and refineries back in the late 40's and early 50's.

Back in those days you had dark, smoky lounges with plenty of cheap beer. and a rough crowd looking to let off steam after a hard day’s work. The jukebox played a steady stream of Texas Blues with a raw, angry sound and rhythms best described as Stripper music.

Legend has it the Whip started as a "pickup" dance that fit the suggestive "get down & dirty" lyrics like tight pants clinging to a well curved woman. The man would lean against the bar drinking a beer or smoking a cigarette with one hand while a woman would grab his other hand for balance. Inspired by the music, she would start to roll her hips, then glide forward and back to the beat. As she strutted her stuff, the man would act cool and pretend to ignore the performance, but no doubt the corner of his eye tracked her movements like a hawk measuring its prey!

The Texas Whip is basically an offshoot of the legendary
West Coast Swing. 

Whip, spelled as it is with the word "hip" in it, has always emphasized hip motion as part of its Basic. West Coast Swing traditionally has favored more emphasis on flashy footwork.  For 50 years, the two dances stayed separate. Modern technology has changed all that. The Internet, the availability of dance videotapes, national dance magazines, and the ease of travel (allowing teachers and students to overcome the handicap of distance) have brought about the change.

Here in the 90's the barriers that separated the two dances for 50 years are fading faster than you can say "Berlin Wall".  West Coast Swing dancers see the awesome hip roll of the Whip and decide on the spot they gotta have some of that.  The Whip dancers see those flying, prancing, dancing feet of the WC Swingers and want a piece of that action too. 

Today you don't have to choose. The modern trend is to merge the two dances together and constantly interweave from one style to the other.  The long-lost dances have been reunited.  You can have them both !  


So how did the two dances get split in the first place ?

The earliest origins of Whip have been traced to California during World War II. The 40’s marked the height of the Big Band era. Swing Dancing was enormously popular in USO dance halls across the country at this time.

During World War II the population of the state of California nearly doubled with its massive military industry, many military bases, and important Pacific Theator seaports like San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Dancing was the best way for boys to meet girls in an age where time was precious.  In California the floors were so crowded that a new style of dancing developed out of necessity.

west_coast_swing_02.jpg (10888 bytes)

To save space couples would pack into tight pockets
and dance in the same direction across the room.

As the precursor to what we now call West Coast Swing, a serviceman would hold his ground while his partner  would push off from him, shuffle her feet, then snap back to him like a rubber band.  This was the start of the  WC Swing Basic with its famous Coaster Step.  When room permitted, the man and lady would trade places, which gave rise to the Passing Step, the most common step in West Coast Swing.  The limitations of space created this "Slotted Dance" where the man and woman always danced in a straight line (as opposed to Lindy, Swing, and Jitterbug which allowed dancers to face any direction they wish, but took up much more space).

After the war ended, Texans returning from the Pacific brought their California
dance home with them and tried it to the slower Blues music.

Almost immediately they noticed the music was only half the speed of the faster Swing music. This changed the feel of the dance completely. Since no one really knew what the footwork was, Texas girls would just grab the guy’s hand and move to the music. As the girls played around with the back and forth movement of the California dance, they discovered a provocative hip motion that fit the slow, sensual music maybe too well. This adaptation created yet a new dance with a style all its own. Some called it Push, some called it Whip, some called it downright nasty.

Let's interrupt our story for a brief explanation of the Hip Motion.

An explanation of the Whip Hip Motion.

The Whip Basic has 6 beats of music :  

Chart  1

  1     and    2     3   and   4         5    and     6
Hitch and Step, Tra  vel  Step,  Hitch and Bump

    Chart 2

    3   and    4        5     and    6   1     and    2   
  Tra  vel  Step,  Hitch & Bump,  Hitch & Step


Hip Motion is not easy to explain to someone who hasn't seen it.
Cheer up.  Many students who have seen it don't understand it either.

There are two basic Whip positions : the Hitch and the Bump.

The Hitch has the lady's hips away from the man with an arched back.
The Bump has the lady's hips towards the man with her shoulders back. 

A major part of the Whip Basic involves arm tension, usually in a two-hand position.  The lead is said to be "double resistance".

Warning : We are about to write about Whip timing. Few humans can understand what is being said here and those few probably are
usually too analyticial to be able to dance. Be very careful :
If you can already do the Whip, ignore this next part. Attempting to understand it may cost you the ability to dance for several days !!!.

Hitch_Position_02.jpg (7716 bytes)

Using Chart 2 above for reference, each Whip Basic has three Hip Motions.  The cadence is :

Travel Step,  Hitch and Bump, Hitch and Step (5 and 6, 1 and 2).

First, the lady slides away from the man. We call this separation from the man the "Travel Step". It is sometimes also a "Tap-Step" in certain situations.

As the lady travels away from the man, he "Pulls" against her arms... this stops her shoulders from moving, but he can't stop her hips (nor would any sane man want to !). Her hips keep going back past her shoulders till they hit the Hitch Position.  Notice in the picture above the lady's hips are back while her shoulders are forward.

Now the tension in the lady's arms and legs needs to be released. As she snaps back towards the man, he suddenly "Pushes" against her arms. If she resists the man through her arms, her shoulders are frozen still, but her hips keep going forward till they hit the Bump Position. 

The first resistance created the Hitch. The second resistance created the Bump. Now the woman has tension in her arms and legs again. She releases the tension into another Hitch Position. We call this second Hitch Position the "Bounce Hitch". At this point she is out of momentum and ready to come forward to start the whole process again.

The man is happy to oblige by pulling her forward to start the Travel Step again. His major role is to provide counter balance for the lady through arm tension.  As a rule, men are thrilled to stand there and provide a curvaceous lady all the opportunities to roll her hips in front of him as she desires.

Bump_Position_knees_together.jpg (9193 bytes)

Unfortunately that is easier said than done. Until the man learns what he is supposed to be doing, it is far too easy to knock the lady off balance. Most men find it extremely tricky to coordinate the precise timing of their leads with their equally complicated footwork. 

In baseball it is called "good field, no hit". Or vice versa.  In Whip it takes a while to connect the arms, the hips, and the feet so they all play for the same team (the one you are on !).  Similarly the ladies take a while to master the legendary hip motion.  Even then her arms may sabotage her work. This is why a good teacher can make a big difference. It is safer to go slowly and learn it right than to be forced to undo quite a bit of mis-programmed muscle memory.  

However, once you get your act down, you will knock 'em dead at the office Christmas Party. Civilians cannot get enough of the Whip when they are seeing it for the first time.  Promotions are not guaranteed, but the boss is likely to recognize you in the hall from then on. Don't forget to smile.

Whip takes about 4 months to get the fundamentals, then a year for polish, and perhaps
a lifetime to master. Fortunately the Journey is fascinating every Triple Step of the way !


Please Click Here for Page Two of the History of Whip !


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