Japan Gets Jive Motion

by Julian Ryall
Japan Gets Jive Motion Sexy new blend of salsa and swing is great for health, beginners and confidence With a shimmy of the hips and a fancy piece of footwork, the new move is mastered and the student looks delighted at her performance. Around the dance fl oor, a round of spontaneous applause breaks out after other couples also achieve the steps they have been practicing under the careful tutelage of Justin Hollingworth.

But just as they have built up a rapport with that partner, the ladies are moved to their right to find a new partner and Hollingworth embarks upon teaching them the next move.

It is a Thursday night in a Tokyo event-space-cum-bar and the Jive Motion event is getting into its swing. “Modern jive has become a huge dance phenomenon in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and other places, including southern Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong,” said 46-year-old Hollingworth, who is originally from Enfield in North London and first came to Japan in 1989.

Jive Motion “My ambition is to bring this movement to Japan and, when people think of modern jive, I want them to think of Jive Motion,” he said.

The first Jive Motion event in Japan was held in January, at Superdeluxe in Roppongi, with three hour session, they performed a mixture of modern jive moves, incorporating elements of salsa, swing and ballroom, such as tango and jive, all set to a diverse selection of music.

From a raised stage at the front of the venue, Hollingworth demonstrates the moves with his partner, walking through the steps from a standing start. Initially, the moves are straightforward turns with an occasional shimmy of the feet, but gradually they become more complex. Hollingworth makes sure that the moves are repeated until his dancers have got them down pat.

Jive Motion classes teach the 20 core, beginner moves before those who feel confi dent enough advance to more technical versions. At each session, dancers usually practice four of the basic moves, meaning that after just five or six sessions, anyone will have mastered the beginner steps.

“The beauty of it is that anyone can do it, whether you’re 16 or 66,” he said.

“There are three basic reasons that so many people—many of whom were not previously dancers— are attracted,” he said. “Firstly, you can dance to any music that has a four-four beat; secondly, it’s very easy because there is no complicated footwork.

“That means you can make progress very quickly and look good soon after starting to learn,” he said. “Compare that to ballroom dancing, where it will probably take a year for a couple to get one song looking good.

“And thirdly, modern jive is very accessible as you can just turn up without any special clothes or shoes,” he added. “And because everyone changes partners throughout the evening, learning with a variety of dancers, you make progress much quicker.”

Hollingworth started dancing during a spell in London in 2000, where the biggest name in the modern jive revolution is Ceroc, which holds events for around 50,000 people at dozens of venues across Britain every week.

“A lot of foreigners here know what this is about, but most Japanese don’t know about pair dancing or modern jive,” Hollingworth said. “I want this to become more mainstream in Japanese society, rather than mostly be for the expat crowd. We’re starting in Tokyo, but I want to get out to all the major cities across the country in the future.”

As the dancers at Superdeluxe improved and grew in confidence, they became noticeably more relaxed and, consequently, better at the moves.

“We are hoping this will spread by word of mouth,” Hollingworth said. “But I can guarantee that, if you come along with a group of friends, you will have a good time and you will all be dancing by the end of the evening.”