Guide to Following

Guide to Following Modern Jive
  • Keep in time with the music. Or a fraction behind to give you a time to recognise what is being led.
  • Keep your hands at waist level and offer your right hand. Keep left hand available should the leader wish to take it.
  • Keep a slightly bent elbow on the arm(s) being led - Do not straighten (or it gets yanked) - not too stiff and not too floppy .
  • Always keep elbow in front of your hip - it should never go behind you.
  • Keep on the balls of your feet - don't let your heels touch the floor where possible.
  • Don’t stand too far away from leader - Usually to start dancing, leader will push you away a bit so you need to start closer so you have somewhere to go.
  • Take small steps - When stepping back, try not to let your toe go much further back than the heel of the other foot.
  • Tension - give back the same pressure as leader is using.
  • Keep doing the same thing you are being led until you can’t go any further or get led to do something different. (if you are invited to turn keep turning, if led to walk straight, keep walking straight etc.)
  • Keep eye contact - Watch leader’s eyes as they can give clues as to what is going to happen next.
  • Keep your belly button pointing towards the point of contact when you can - Point of contact is the hand you are being led by. If your hand is moved to one side, turn to keep belly button pointing to the hand. This is the way a leader can make you move in the required direction.
  • Do not anticipate - lots of moves have similar starts and you do not know which one the leader is intending.
  • Keep an eye on the leader’s hands. - If you are offered a hand, try to take it.


A hand held above head is an invitation to turn. The leader may give a hint as to which way to turn. Generally you “turn” clockwise first, which will soon be followed by a return (anticlockwise). A kind leader will use the alternating rule (alternately turn the follower clockwise and anticlockwise which helps to prevent giddiness). However, when leading an experienced follower who knows how to “spot”, several turns in the same direction can look good so is not unkind (unless it makes the follower feel ill!)

There is a connection between the followers hand, hip and foot. When the right hand is pushed back, the follower should turn the right hip away and also step back on the right foot. Similarly for pulling forward should make you step forward. Same rule applies to left hand/hip/foot. In essence, the way a leader moves your foot is by moving your hand.

Never look at your feet! Bending your head forward to look at your feet puts all your weight forward and makes you difficult to lead. Also it doesn’t look very good. Best place to look is into your partner’s eyes.