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Jive Change Places -- Right To Left & Left To Right

by Harold & Meredith Sears

There are two "change places" figures in jive. The cues sound alike, and sometimes we find that we have done the wrong one, and we're out of position.

When we Change Places Right to Left, we might be facing partner and wall. We blend to semi-closed position facing line of dance and rock back left (W bk R). We recover on our trail feet and then dance side/close, side, beginning to turn left-face (W dances sd/cl, sd, spinning right-face under his lead hands on the third step of this first triple). We end with a forward/close, forward (W bk/cl, bk) to left open facing position, man facing diagonal line and center. The timing is 123a4; 1a2 over 1 1/2 measures.

Of course, we can begin and end in other positions and in other facing directions, and we often under- or over-turn the figure -- for instance, the man might start facing wall and end facing line or facing center. The cuer will tell us.

When we Change Places Left to Right, again we might begin with the man facing wall, but this time we need to rock straight apart with the lead feet, recover right (W rec L), and then dance side/close, side beginning to turn right-face (W apt R, rec L, fwd/cl, fwd trng left-face under his lead hand). During the second triple, we both dance side/close, side, completing our turns to end in left open facing position man perhaps facing diagonal reverse and center.

The change right to left and left to right are persistent problems for many. We are so used to facing the wall and doing a right to left that if a left to right is cued, we either thoughtlessly do the right to left and end up facing line when we should be facing reverse, or we panic and stand there -- "left, right, what!" So, be prepared to focus in on the details of these cues:

  • Listen to the first directional word. The man can focus on the word right (as in "right to left") and know that he needs to do a fallaway rock to semi, moving to his right. This will aim the partnership in the proper direction and get the woman moving toward the man's left side. If he hears left first, he needs to rock straight back with a basic rock, not moving right but staying a bit to the left of and facing the lady. As he raises his lead arm, she will be directed to his right side.

  • Or the woman can hear the word right first and know she will turn right-face under lead hands. If the first directional word is left, she will turn left-face. These directions guide her to the proper side of the man.

  • Or the man can focus on the second directional word (as in "right to left") and take her to that side. Left -- direct her past your left shoulder and toward your left hand. Right -- direct her toward your right side. Quick! Do you know your left from your right? You will if you are prepared to think about it.

We can't just hear these two cues and think generically, "okay this is where we sort of do an underarm turn and change sides." We have to hear that these are two different cues, referring to two very different figures.

This article was published in the Washington Area Square Dancers Cooperative Association (WASCA) Calls 'n' Cues, December, 2010.


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