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

Whip and West Coast Swing 

Check out the History of Whip,
an extensive 3 page writeup on the background of this extraordinary dance

click here for the story behind the Sleazy Bar Whip Party

Whip

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West Coast Swing

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The Whip is a sexy Swing partner dance that originated right here in the heart of Texas. The Whip is quite similar to the national dance known as the West Coast Swing.  This is no surprise since basically the Whip and the West Coast Swing are long-lost brothers, born in California, but separated at birth.

The Texas Whip is basically an offshoot of the West Coast Swing. The Whip traces its roots to Texas-born GI's who returned home from California after the long struggle of World War II.  They brought home with them an interesting dance they had learned out in California during the war. However once they mixed the California dance with Texas blues and Texas women, the dance changed dramatically (for the better, of course!)

After the war, the Whip was spawned in the dives, bars, western joints, and honky-tonks 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 back and forth 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 !

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.

In the 90's the barriers that separated the two dances for 50 years faded faster than you can say "Berlin Wall".  West Coast Swing dancers saw the awesome hip roll of the Whip and decided on the spot they gotta have some of that.  The Whip dancers saw those flying, prancing, dancing feet of the WC Swingers and wanted 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 !  

Trivia Question 1 :

What Texas Park is given credit for spreading
the legend of Whip across Texas ? 

(answer below)

Beginning,
Intermediate,
Advanced,
and Lunar

Whip and West Coast Swing

Whip and West Coast are considered the ultimate social dance challenge. These two dances are not learned quickly.

They both depend on excellent timing and precise footwork. Many dancers take up the Whip after they have had some success at learning other dances such as Swing, Western, or Latin. These other dances are not prerequisites, but serve as testing grounds so you can gauge your dance aptitude.

To be honest, even experienced dancers find Whip and West Coast tricky to learn. I have found that the single most important predictor of how well you do is your willingness to stay after class and practice. No matter how well you do in class, if you don't stay to practice, the dance will never get under your skin.

You have to soak in it to succeed.

 

Beginning Whip covers the basics like the Bump Step, the Basic, Hip Motion, the Bump Exit, the Passing Step, and the Swingaround.

Intermediate Whip introduces the Whip Step, Whip arm tension, the Walkaround, and the Twister Step.

Advanced covers the difficult Hammerlock double turns, the Snaparound, the Hook Step, and a variety of intricate patterns.

Lunar Whip, also known as Super-Advanced Whip, covers the Walkaround Reverse Turns, the Stray Cat Strut, and the Cold Shoulder.

 

Trivia Question 2 :

What is Whip called up in Dallas ? 
(answer below)

Martian Whip

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There are 12 levels of Martian Whip. Taught by Rick Archer on Thursday and by  and Jack Benard on Friday, this course covers the many complex patterns of higher-level Whip.

Unlike other dances where you can take one or two courses and become good enough to hit the dance floor running, Whip and West Coast Swing have a prolonged maturation time. The joke is to western dance at your Christmas Party, start class after Thanksgiving. To Whip at your Christmas Party, start class at Easter. It isn't quite that bad, but the truth is once you decide to become a good Whip dancer, you have chosen to join a small and very elite group. There are probably fewer than 700 active Whip dancers in Houston which may surprise you since Houston is one of Whip's original spawning grounds. 


Fortunately you can enjoy the dance right from the start. If you like Rhythm and Blues, Disco, and Rock music, and you like to Freestyle dance as well as partner dance, chances are you will love the Whip.  More than any other dance,  the Whip allows you get to move your body and let it all hang out.

Whip is so fascinating that it can grow on you. After a few months, you can actually become absorbed in its intricacies. You suddenly realize this dance is worth exploring further.

In a sense, joining Martian Whip is like making a commitment.  Martian Whip is the important symbolic step you take when you realize that you would like to become an excellent dancer.

A nice feature of Martian Whip is that the Friday class is totally separate from the Thursday class. By signing up for either night, you are welcome to come to the other night for a complete different set of material.  

  Trivia Question 3 :
Where did "Martian Whip" get its name ? 

(answer below)

The SSQQ Whip Superclass
starts every
January, March, May, July, September, and November
!


Once every two months SSQQ offers Whip twice a week instead of our usual once a week. The course continues for four months. As an example, if you take Beginning Whip on on Thursdays and Fridays in March, you can take Intermediate the same two nights in April, Advanced for two nights in May, and Lunar the same two nights in June. In other words, we carry the idea through for 4 months. 

Whip and West Coast Swing are difficult to learn. It is helpful to have the opportunity to do makeups if you miss a class or even come twice a week from time to time to get extra instruction. Many students report this is the trickiest class they have ever taken, but at the same time the two dances are the most fun once they got the hang of it. Join us to see what all the fuss is about !

 

 
Trivia Question 1 :
What is Whip called up in Dallas ? 

Answer :
The Push.

Apparently the Push was very popular in Denton, Texas (just north of Dallas) at North Texas State University. As their students graduated, many of them helped bring the dance to Dallas. If you ever move to Dallas, check out the Dallas Push Club !

 

Trivia Question 2 :
What Texas Park is given credit for spreading
the legend of Whip across Texas ?

Answer :
Garner State Park.

Garner is about 60 miles west of San Antonio and 20 miles north of Uvalde. How on earth this spot became a Whip Mecca back in 60's is beyond me, but anyone growing up in Texas in those days heard about the legend the Whip at Garner State Park. I hear there is a group of older Whip dancers who still get together out at Garner once a year for a reunion. Whether this is true or not, I am not sure.

One gentleman, Chuck Williams, sent me an excellent story about the days at Garner. To read his story, visit Garner State Park

I would be thrilled if anyone who knows more about those days at Garner would email me with additional  information so I can add it to the Web Page.
Thanks ! Rick Archer    Dance@ssqq.com

 

Trivia Question 3 :
Where did "Martian Whip" get its name ? 

Martian Whip was named in honor of Mike Fagan.

Mike Fagan is one of SSQQ's most interesting personalities.
A Rice computer professor by day (and most of the night and all year long),
he puts away his nerd pack, minimizes his brain, finds his dance towel,
and... poof ! ... he is transformed into one of Houston's  best Whip dancers.

Starting with Whip classes here at SSQQ in January, 1984, Mike, a Foosball champion,
a state Bridge champion, and a performing Break Dancer, immediately loved the music and
the dancing. He learned quickly. Not only did Mike have good leads, he had one particular
strength that lady Whip dancers love : he had perfect timing !

Soon Mike was asked to enter Whip contests. Every Sunday at the Four Palms,  there was Whip dancing to a live band called the "Soul Brothers". The joint was off of Telephone Road and actually had a sign on the door that said, "Check your guns and knives at the door" (compare that to SSQQ's "please turn off your cell phone"). The Four Palms had a low-key Whip contest every week.
One night on the spur of the moment Mike decided to enter.

Well, Mike did fine by his standards, but in the eyes of his peers he didn't do very well.
Mike preferred to dance his way. That included all his background from Break Dancing :
head rolls, jerks, twitches, body waves, Robotic-style arm movements.
The get-down-and-dirty old timers looked away in horror and disdain.

Mike was a rebel. He continued to do it his way. His partner was encouraged to dump him. "Too weird", she was told. "Get a traditional Whip dancer."  After a few months of this, Mike decided to ask Mario Robau, considered Houston's finest male Whip dancer, for his opinion. Mario replied without hesitation, "Mike, you have great leads, great moves, perfect timing, but your footwork is strictly from the Planet Mars."

Undaunted, Mike stuck with it. In 1986 with Debbie Anglin he won a Texas State Whip Championship.  Talk about someone who did it the hard way, Mike's persistence and natural talent persevered in the end.

 

 
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