While not being too restrictive in our views and in the process snuffing individuality, we’ve got to highlight when something concerning our lifestyle, attire, music and dance is misrepresented, and not too put too fine a word on it debased. Today it’s the turn of the bop and specifically the teddy-boy bop of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a singleton dance which is so different from the couple bop of 1950s rock’n’rollers (see here). It is incredible how seldom this dance is seen done properly (and by ‘properly’ I mean how the teds did it and still do today). We won’t describe how to dance the teddy-boy bop in any detail here other than to say that the bdy is arched and the dancing is on the toes – I have preferred to showcase some bad examples of bopping in the eyes of teds.
This clip is from 2011 and shows Per Morgensen aka Per Rock demonstrating the ‘rockabilly’ bop, by which one must understand the teddy-boy bop, the dance of predilection for most rock’n’rollers of the 1970s revival (including rockabillies and hepcats as well as teds). Per explains “I just set up the camera and wanted to show the rockabilly people how you can do THE BOP dance to great rocakbilly music. I knew the song and all the breaks, so I kinda just ‘let go’ – and ended up with what you see 🙂 “. The reactions were mainly positive, only one comment from *Noodle Neck (YTcomm 2021) said “crap, … dance school stuff, get your money back, its either natural or not at all”. Per (YTcomm 2015) kind of confirms this impression when he writes “Yes, there is some people who wants to learn how do THE BOP – this is primarily people not in the 50´s scene. I find some of the rockabilly scene way to “drunk” hense they cannot move their feet.” In response, Mack Willis, familiar with the English rockin’ scene, agrees “that solo dance or bopping existed back in the 30s and 40s when people danced by themselves for whatever reason. Nothing new about it at all! Rockabillies and rock n rollers have grasped this from decades ago in England but the swingers here don’t seem to understand it at all! Ha ha!! Yes, the rockabillies certainly do like to drink that’s for sure! I find that they are more interested in the music itself rather than the dancing. This is the very opposite to the lindy hoppers and shaggers who will do their steps to just about any music, good or bad!”. Per continues “I do Shag too – Collegiate Shag, and I actually dance all swing dances as well as I can do “50´s jive” but never do that as I find it very boring and hard for the ladies shoulder to pulled that much. / In my point of view the socalled jivers know 5 variations THE MOST and that´s it. We, Lindy Hoppers etc have loads more to offer and we interpretet the music as well. / Take a look at the movie Don´t Knock The Rock (recorded in 1956 and released 1957) and the clip with Bill Haley doing Rip It Up – there you see some swing dancers doing the Lindy Hop to ROCK music though loads of 50´s people say “nice or cool JIVING” but if they want to learn what they are doing in that specific cllip they need to leanr 8 count basic in Lindy Hop. / It has always puzzled me why the 50´s scene call it JIVE as the term that was mostly used in the 50´s was JITTERBUG “.
I tend to agree with *Noodle Neck’s comment, and for the following specific reasons. Per’s bopping is alright in parts but he spoils it by often keeping a vertical body position rather than arching his body inwards (is this arching of the body during the teddy-boy bop the reason he thinks that teddy boys are drunk ?). There are inebriated and even drunk teds at dances like at any fun social function, but it is a fallacious conclusion to link drunkeness and the way the teddy-boy bop is done and ignores the fact that many teddy boys and girls will tell you that their love of the music and the dancing makes getting drunk or high by ingestive means pointless. To us teds, it looks like Per is performing rather than enjoying and therein lies the difference between dance-school-taught dancing and rock’n’roll dancing on the rockin’ scene : the first is for showing-off, the second is for pleasure. And what is more, the organic self-taught dancing of the rock’n’rollers is more individualistic and interesting than the choreographed cleverness of the dance-school product, which tends to produce regimented uniformity, especially in couples, certainly in this ted’s eyes.
And in case you might suspect that I have it for anyone who isn’t 100% ted, there are good demonstrations of bopping by non-teds, such as that by the young hispanic skinhead lady living in New York who goes by the name of *Aranivah (view here).
POSTED January 2021.
Kay Lee in ‘Rock, Baby, Rock It!’