How to rockabilly dance

Rockabilly - coolcatsrocknrollsunshinecoast

Rockabilly is the dance style for anybody who wants to dance FAST! Rockabilly is distinguished by its strong anti-clockwise circular motion and momentum, which is facilitated by absence of the back-step (rock-step) common to the swing based dances.


Rockabilly is also the rebel's dance - it does not conform to many of the basic movements, structure, and presentation of other styles. It has a unique rhythm, motion, and emphasis - a 'feel' - that is not captured by any other dance style. Consequently, many dancers who fall in love with Rockabilly are devoted to the style and rarely desire to dance anything else.


Rockabilly may be danced in several different forms, which may be loosely defined by the lead's body position: Cult (Forward), Straight-Up (Centre), and Lay-Back (Away). In practice different Rockabilly figures will utilise and/or emphasise all of these positions. Cool Cats therefore teaches from centre position, while examining the actions and body movements that create presentation Forward/Away from partner. This allows each dancer/couple to establish their own Rockabilly 'style' according to personal preferences of look and feel.

Rockabilly Jive. If you searching for Rockabilly on the internet and your most likely to find this sort of Rockabilly dancing, which can be seen here to include the occasional back-step, kick/flick, and swing move. However, the overall styling and action remains distinctive.

Rockabilly??? With the movement of Rockabilly dance and styles with US culture following WW2 the interpretation of 'what is Rockabilly' can be quite different. These are the (almost notorious) Rockabilly dancers of Yoyogi Park, Japan.

Rockabilly - Oz Style. Perth dancers at the Melbourne Rockabilly Meltdown. All the dancers in this clip have been taught by Cool Cats at some point, particularly through to advanced content.

Rockabilly, as a dance style, means something quite different depending upon where you come from - even though the music is the same. A quick look on You Tube will show you some very different Rockabilly dancing in Japan, to the UK, to Australia. Even within Australia there are slight differences in interpretation between the East and West coast.


At Cool Cats we recognise Rockabilly as a 4 beat dance style where the man moves anti-clockwise around the woman - and there is no back-step! This marks Rockabilly as distinctly different from the other dance styles, which move clockwise and use a back-step as preparation for dance figures. Rockabilly is a rebel and it just keeps on moving when the other dances stop!  


Rhythm, speed, and connection. Rockabilly has a movement, a look, and a feel that is both distinct and addictive. If you love this style of music, there really is no other dance style that can fit with it so well. Not to mention, you can also dance really, really fast :) 


With a good Lead, most Follows are able to quickly acquire the basic action and dance at speed. Check out this video - Imogen moving at pace (Johnny Cash - Big River!) with less than 10 weeks dancing in the style. 

No dance style demands a high energy input - but Rockabilly is built for speed! It is the fastest of the dance styles and, we believe, just doesn't have the same feel, connection, or impact when danced too slow. Rockabilly even lets you 'change gears' so that you can keep going faster. Of course, in class you need time to learn how to make that happen so the pace is modest. However, we will keep encouraging you to try the faster music, because that is when this dance style really shines! 


Minnie’s Rockabilly Stroll How To

Posted on by Holly Collins

Do you love retro? Rockabilly pulls the best of the past into the present. But who would be a 50’s cartoon princess? Why Minnie Mouse fits the bill for a retro rockabilly stroll how to.

About Minnie Mouse

Minnie graced the silver screen first as Minerva mouse in 1928. Even though Minnie was not an official Disney princess, she was always a princess to Mickey.  She also starred as a princess in two cartoons. She was first featured as a Princess in 1933 in ‘Ye Olden Days’, and again in the ‘3 Musketeers’ (2004).

Princess Minnie loved animals. Her two pets were Fifi the dog, and later Figaro the kitten from Pinocchio. Although Micky and Minnie never officially married, their voice actors did marry one another. They were a mouse match made in heaven.

Fashion icon

By the 1940’s Minnie mouse’s redesign set trends. Minnie changed from a flapper to a more conservative polka dot dress with a bow. Her new dress influenced the pop-culture. Musicians like Frank Sinatra sang about polka dots and by the 50’s Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, and Audrey Hepburn sported spots. It is not surprising that Minnie received her star on National Polka Dot Day. This mouse knows style.

The Stroll

The Micky Mouse Club was a hit from 1955 to 1959, paralleling the popular Stroll dance. This was a 1957 mixer dance with two lines of dancers facing one another and the top couple dances down the center. By the 1970’s there was a rockabilly & stroll revival in movies like ‘American Graffiti’ & ‘Grease’. Just like Minnie Mouse morphed, the stroll mixer morphed into a line dance. The line dance version is now known as the Rockabilly Stroll.

Rockabilly Stroll How To
  1. Step tap 3 times, right, left, right. (Step right, tap left, step left, tap right, step right, tap left, count 1,2,3,4,5,6)
  2. Grapevine and tap left and right. (Side left, cross right behind left, side left, tap right, 1,2,3,4 Side right, cross left behind right, side right, tap left 5,6,7,8.)
  3. Step Tap Back 2 times, Left & Right. (Back left, tap right, back right, tap left 1,2,3,4)
  4. Chasse forward tap and turn ¼ turn to your right. (forward left, close right to left, forward left, tap right next to left turning ¼ turn to your right shoulder backward 5,6,7,8)
  5. Begin from the top (note, each movement is one count, or beat)

“I Wanna Bop” Billy Harlan. Harlan is composer and bass player tapped by Jim Reeves to play in his band in 1958 recording “Schoolhouse Rock” and “I Wanna Bop”. From there Jimmy Harlan faded into obscurity until, in 2010 the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend brought Jimmy out of retirement. He found fame many decades after his original recordings were made.


To pick my film location I did a search of Colorado to find historic diners. Rosie’s Diner came up in an article “5 authentic 50’s diners Denver.” After going to dinner at Rosie’s I was convinced this was the perfect location for Minnie Mouse’s Rockabilly stroll.

About Rosie’s Diner

Rosie’s Diner at 14061 Aurora Colorado had far from humble beginnings. This Paramount stainless steel modular diner started as the “silver dollar diner” in New Ferry, New Jersey. It’s interior 50’s charm includes diner booths, and jukebox at each booth that plays two tunes for the price of a quarter, and classis diner art and memorabilia.

How did Rosie’s get its name? This diner was featured in the bounty commercials where a waitress in the diner named Rosie would be the quicker picker up. Owner Sam Dehghani kept the tradition alive and named this 1950’s retro diner after its famous commercial waitress Rosie.

Holly Collins
WEDDING DANCE instruction
author of
Holly’s hot wedding tips, 
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Perhaps the most dynamic social dance of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Boogie-woogie (also: boogie, double rock and roll, club rock and roll) is a dance whose name repeats the name of the musical style (boogie woogie), which survived several waves of popularity in the 20th century.

There is a legend that boogie-woogie originated in the late 40s of the XX century, when American soldiers brought swing dance to Europe during the war, where it was transformed under the influence of more modern music and European dance culture. However, the veracity of this legend is rather doubtful.

He puts the boys to sleep with boogie every night
And wakes 'em up the same way in the early bright
They clap their hands and stamp their feet
'Cause they know how it goes when someone gives him a beat

The Andrews Sisters , Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, 1941

What kind of dance is this?

Boogie-woogie is very similar to Lindy Hop, but differs from it in the dynamics and refinement of movements that clearly convey the character of rock and roll music. Rock and roll, like swing, is danced in pairs, and the dance itself is built on constant improvisation and interaction with a partner.

Nils and Bianca dancing to piano boogie

What kind of music can boogie-woogie be dancing to?

The list of musical genres to which you can dance boogie-woogie is unusually wide: classic piano boogie, fast jazz, rockabilly, rock and roll, and blues. Also, since almost all modern compositions are based on the musical principles of the blues, double rock and roll dances wonderfully to modern pop, indie and even electronic music.

Sports rock and roll

In addition to the social boogie, there are also two relatives of it:

  1. A close brother is a sports boogie. Some dance schools in Moscow focus on teaching the sports style of boogie-woogie, which differs from the social style in the presence of strict competitive regulations, less improvisation, an abundance of learned schemes and a large number of acrobatic tricks
  2. An extremely distant relative is acrobatic rock and roll. In fact, acrobatic rock and roll has little to do with boogie-woogie - having adopted part of the musical repertoire and a number of movements from it, it is strictly a sports discipline.

Where did boogie-woogie come from?

Club rock 'n' roll most likely began around the time that rockabilly began to take over the music scene and swing dancers began to change their dance to suit the new music.

One of the first appearances of double rock and roll in popular cinema

For a whole decade, rockabilly and rock and roll thundered around the world, being especially popular among young people, which was reflected in the cinema.

However, over time, pair dances began to lose their popularity, and swing disappeared from view for many years. It was only in the 80s that the revival of Lindy Hop began in Sweden, giving swing a new life, and with it reviving the social boogie-woogie, which gained popularity in a number of Scandinavian and Eastern European countries.

Of course, modern social boogie-woogie is somewhat different from how rock and roll was danced in the middle of the 20th century, but nevertheless, thanks to its relationship with lindy hop, it is the most authentic modern direction that can be dance to boogie, rockabilly and rock and roll.


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Bugi-wool dance under jazz, rock and rock-n. roll melodies, rockabilly.


Boogie-woogie is a very energetic dance. But at the initial stage, the loads are not high.


Rock and roll and swing parties, parks and clubs, restaurants and jazz festivals.


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