How to dance the shim sham

Origins of the Shim Sham — Sugarfoot Stomp

The first few bars of the music begins, the whole room starts clapping and assembling into a mass group then POOF, they all magically know the synchronised moves to the same song!

You’re wondering to yourself- what wizardry is this?!- well- not quite magic, but it does seem like the people are under the same spell. 

You have just witnessed the #1 routine to learn when you join the Swing Dance Community!

“The Shim Sham”

Wanna Know More?

In 1926 Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant met while performing in the Whitman Sister’s shows. The Whitman sisters were a troupe of four Black American sisters who were stars of Black Vaudeville. Their show was quite popular running from 1900 to 1943.

One of the shows needed a finale so Leonard and Willie came up with a Tap routine for everyone to come onstage and perform together. We are talking about the tap dancers, singers and other performers. Their dance was made up from shuffles, cross-overs, tacky Annies and a fall off the log. They called the dance “Goofus” to the tune of Turkey in the Straw

In the 1930s, legend has it that one of the show dancers was fired, went to New York and started to perform the routine at a club called the Shim Sham. The dance was renamed the Shim Sham Shimmy. The routine spread all over Harlem and was danced onstage as an ‘all in’ finale to bring the performers together to close a show. The tap dancers would perform with the tap moves and everyone else would shuffle through. One dance act called ‘The Three Little Words’ in 1931, performed at Connie’s Inn, would invite the whole club to join in and dance the Shim Sham. 

At the Savoy Ballroom, Frankie Manning and his friends learnt the steps and danced it on the edges of the ballroom while the main social swing dancing was happening. They performed it as a line dance without the taps. 

Al Minns & Leon James choreographed a version of the Shim Sham at the end of the 1940s / beginning of the 1950s.

Al Minns was one of the dancers who performed in Hellzapoppin’ (see our Origins of Swing Dancing page). Like Frankie Manning, Al and Leon were members of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers and danced at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York. Both Al and Leon continued to perform and teach Jazz dance in the 1950s and 1960s including filming clips for television specials. Sadly Leon James passed away in 1970. Al Mins kept on dancing and like Frankie Manning, was an important part of sustaining the culture and celebration of Black dance. Al Mins passed away in 1985.

Frankie Manning revived the Shim Sham at the end of the 1980s and it caught on! 

Here are a series of videos of Frankie Manning performing the Shim Sham.

Frankie Manning and his son Chazz Young performing the Shim Sham with a solo ending

Another clip of Frankie Manning and Chazz Young performing the Shim Sham

Frankie Manning leading the Shim Sham, Herrang 2007

Global Shim Sham for Frankie’s 95th Birthday 2009

Today the Shim Sham is performed globally at major events, small dance gatherings or just whenever the song is played!

To keep the Shim Sham fresh, many variations have been added to enable dancers to express their own dance styles while keeping to the origins of the Frankie version.  

“The Music”

The Shim Sham can be performed to a variety of songs.

Here are a few:

  • Tain't What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It): Jimmie Lunceford

  • ‘Tain’t What You Do: Billy May

  • Tain’t What You Do: THE SCHWINGS BAND

  • Tuxedo Junction- 1989 Remastered: Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra 

  • The Shim Sham Song: Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra

And just to spark your interest!

It’s a good idea to practice the Shim Sham to lots of different songs.

So… Sign Me Up!

Where do I learn?

Sugarfoot Stomp holds dance workshops throughout the year that teach the Shim Sham to the dance community. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for the workshop events or click the link below to our Events Page to see if there is one on offer.

Here’s the Shim Sham being performed at

Sugarfoot Stomp’s

New Years Eve Dance Exchange Summer Hop 2018!

Best Music for Dancing the Shim Sham

A Note From Kathie:
If you would like to add to, correct, or update any of the information on this Web site, you are invited to send a message or a letter to the email address or postal address on our Contact Us page.

Kathie Walling, Editor
Tap Dancing Resources
| Contact Kathie |

MP3 Downloads of Shim Sham Music

Leonard Reed's Original 32 Bar Riff Shim Sham Shimmy Music

Amazon Ad
Features the song "It Ain't What You Do" in several versions, including without the sound of taps and at speeds of 128, 140, 150, 164, 176 beats per minute, and with taps at speeds of 144, 164, and 176 beats per minute. This link goes to the MP3 downloads at but the album is also available at iTunes and other sources.

MP3 Download of "Leonard Reed's Original Shim Sham" Album Amazon Ad

Classic Songs for Leonard Reed's Original Shim Sham Shimmy
Amazon Ad

Album featuring two songs suitable for dancing the shim sham shammy: "When the Cat's Away" and "Good Good Goody". Several versions of each songs are included: slow speed, medium speed, fast speed, and fast speed with vocals. There is also a "Good Good Goody" slow version with only the sound of taps.
- MP3 Download of "Classic Songs for Shim Sham Shimmy" at Amazon Ad

Traditional Songs for Dancing the Shim Sham

SONG TITLE: T'Aint What You Do (It's The Way That You Do It)
DESCRIPTION: First recorded in 1939 by Jimmie Lunceford, Harry James, and Ella Fitzgerald.
- Ella Fitzgerald "T'aint What You Do" YouTube Video (vocals)
- Jimmie Lunceford "T'aint What You do" YouTube Video (instrumental)
- Wikipedia "T'aint What You Do" Article

SONG TITLE: Tuxedo Junction
DESCRIPTION: Song co-written by Erskine Hawkins, Bill Johnson, and Julian Dash. First introduced by the college dance band known as the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra (formerly known as the Bama State Collegians). An instrumental verison of the song performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra was a top hit in 1940.
- YouTube "Tuxedo Junction" Video
- Wikipedia "Tuxedo Junction" Article

SONG TITLE: Turkey in the Straw
DESCRIPTION: American folk song from the early 1800's
- YouTube "Turkey in the Straw" Video
- Wikipedia "Turkey in the Straw" Article

Songs With "Shim Sham" in the Title

SONG TITLE: Shim Sham Song
PERFORMED BY: Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra
- YouTube "Shim Sham Song" Video

SONG TITLE: Shim Sham Shimmy
PERFORMED BY: Champion Jack Dupree
- YouTube "Shim Sham Shimmy" Video

More Songs for Dancing the Shim Sham

SONG TITLE: Stompin' at the Savoy
PERFORMER: Benny Goodman Orchestra
- YouTube "Stompin at the Savoy" Video

SONGTITLE: Penssylvania 6-5000
PERFORMER: Brian Setzer Orchestra
- YouTube "Pennsylvania 6-5000" Video

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Turin Cats Lindy Hop Swing Music Shim Sham Lindy Farms Connecticut, others, fruit, teacher,

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Shim - translation into Russian | English-Russian EnglishespañolFrançaisPortuguêsRussianTürkçe

English phrases | Russian phrases | Turkish phrases

EnglishSpanishFrenchPortugueseRussianTurkishEnglishSpanishFrenchPortugueseRussianTurkish / English → Russian / [ S ] / Shim

366 parallel translation

A little sand on the stage for the native shim-sham sand dance.

A bit of sand on the stage for the national sand dance "Shim-Sham"...

And that's the Ethiopian shim-sham.

That's what this Ethiopian ... "Shim-Sham"!

Shim, sham, shimmy


Sorrel to all. Wild Plant in Shim'on Hatzadik Street.

√ not enough for everyone. ƒkii ÷ branches on Oimon'atzadik street.

The Entenmann's shim sham.

Entenmann's Linden.

shimizu 17
shimon 39
shimmy 29
shim gun wook 114

Requiem in the Ring Wait. Waiting Room Yubiho No Ji-Shim

Requiem in the Ring Yubiho and No Ji-Shim's Room

First, the sultan of strength, No Ji-Shim!

First, Power Giant, No Ji-Shim!

As for wrestling, Shim Kwon-ho is the best!

And in wrestling, Shim Kwon Ho is the best!

Tell them to cast Han Suk-gyu and Shim Eun-ha.

Tell them to take Han Suk-gyu and Shim Eun-ha.

Produced by SHIM Bokyung and SHIN Chul

Editor :

Open it, or I'm gonna shim the lock, maybe damage your ride.

Open up or I'll pop the lock, I might damage your car.

So not only are you holding a transvestite prostitute... they are confused "shim" with mrs. Jordan, yes, ma'am.

So you not only hugged the transvestite... they confused "him" with Mrs. Jordan, yes, ma'am.

- and a shim.

- and gasket.

You knew that Maid Shim killed Wol-ryung.

You knew that Wol Leong fell at the hands of Sim's maid.

You know how Maid Shim ended up dying at the ritual!

You saw the death of Sim!

Wol-ryung, Nurse Park, Maid Shim they all worked under Mistress Hee-bin.

Wol Leong, Sister Pak, Maid Sim, waited on Mrs. Hee Bin.

Shim Deok has fallen

Shim Deok's head was knocked off!

Shim Deok has already fallen in love with Kongkil

She fell in love with Gong Gal!

Shim Deok was what by Kongkil?

Sim Dok and Gong Gal?

I'll tell everyone and Shim Deok ajumma that you are always alone

The late lord Shim Ki Won used to meet that rascal

The late lord Shim Ki Won met this brat more than once!

On the day that lord Shim Ki Won was beheaded, And when the slave was hanged, he was there as well

And on the day of the execution of Prince Sim Gi Won, and when that slave girl was hanged, he also hung around there!

Won Ho, Shim Ki Won

Lee Won Ho, Shim Ki Won,

Uncle Kongkal and aunty Shim Deok will get married.

Uncle Gong Gal and Aunt Sim Dok are getting married.

Not only his biological younger brother even his comrades, such as Shim Ki Won, Kwon Do Hyung, Kim Ik Hee, all... Kwon Do Hyun, Kim Ik Hee - spared no one...

This maybe Shim Ki Won

This might be Shim Ki Won.

Poor aunt Shim Deok!

Poor Sim Doc!

This is aunt Shim Deok's wine jug

Do you want to sell your daughter, just like Shim Cheong *?

Do you want to sell your daughter like * Simcheon?

Now, I can't have these idiots running around, boosting minivans with a shim and a screwdriver.

Therefore, the morons who run around with crowbars at the ready and open rusty minibuses did not give up for nothing.

Am I Shim Chung, * being sold to you?

Am I Shim Chung * to be sold to you?

[* Shim Chung was an ancient filial daughter]

[* Shim Chung was a heroine of a fairy tale. To save her father's life, she gives her own. ]

Her favorite song by SHIM Soo-bong.

This is her favorite song performed by Sim Soo Bong.

I want to go to Jin Shim's place in Seoul too.

I want to go to Chin Sim in Seoul.

Jin Shim!

Chin Sim!

Cincinnati, double-time shim-sham-shimmy, toe punch.

shuffle-ball-change, maxi-ford, cincinatti, cincinatti, double shim-sham-shimmy, toe kick.

You didn't bust your ass to become rosewood's "it girl" just to make chit-chat with shim.

Chattering with him will deprive you of Rosewood's Miss Popularity status.

How is Lord Shim Woon-Taek?

Mr. Shim Won Taek?

You're either with Sean or shim or the others.

You are either with Sean, or with a hermaphrodite, or with someone else

Honey, you are exactly the same as Shim Chung's father who sold his daughter for 300 sacks of rice.

* "The Legend of Sim Cheon" is the story of a girl named Sim Cheon who sacrificed herself for 300 sacks of rice to heal her father.

Learn more