The music has 4 beats to the bar (or 12) and about 42 bars per minute. Count 1, 2 or 3 a 4 per half bar for most step groups or figures. A half bar usually contains a rock-step or a chassé but some figures use quick walks, flicks, or twist steps.
As with other latin dances, the close hold is looser than for ballroom. Very few steps are inline - the rock-step is more like promenade position. The couple often separate into an open position for side-by-side or shadow figures. The hold may be a high double, crossed double, left to right or right to left.
The style of Jive is light and bouncy.
The man takes a small step backwards on the left foot and the lady steps backwards on the right foot. They open out slightly (a bit like a whisk to promenade). Then the weight is replaced onto the other foot. These 2 steps together may be referred to as a rock-step. The next 3 steps are a chassé to the side (along the LOD). There may be a slight downwards sway over the leading foot. The final 3 steps are a chassé to the other side (against the LOD). There may be a slight sway back and up.
Sequence dances tend to use a basic more like Cha-Cha, with only one chassé after the rock step. This would then be followed by a basic in the opposite direction.
|Basic (FP, CH)|
This has the same rock-step and 2 chassés pattern as the basic but with an underarm (alemana) turn. The man raises his left arm and leads the lady to turn under it between the chassés. A right turn can be led from closed or open position. A left turn is only from open position. The figures may be referred to as Change of Places (Right to Left and Left to Right). In Rock and Roll the right turn is an Arc and the left turn is a Loop.
|Arc / Natural Turn (FP-SFP-FP, CH-LRH)|
|Open Arc / Natural Turn (FP-SFP-FP, LRH)|
|Loop / Reverse Turn (FP-SFP-FP, LRH)|
This has the same rock-step and 2 chassés pattern as the basic. From an open position with left-to-right handhold, the man places his right hand over the linked hands and takes a right-to-right handhold. Keeping this low, he leads the lady behind his back on the first chassé while he turns left and she turns right. The man puts his left hand behind his back to take a left-to-right handhold and lead the lady round in front of him - both still turning.
|Change Of Hands (FP-SBP-FP, LRH-RRH-LRH)|
This has the same rock-step and 2 chassés pattern as the basic. From an open position with either left-to-right or right-to-right handhold, the man braces his hand on the first chassé and releases hold. This allows the lady to push off and spin round to the right. She completes the turn on the second chassé while he dances in place. The man may take this opportunity to take a different hand hold for the next figure - eg double or crossed.
|American Spin (FP-SFP-FP, LRH/RRH-NH)|
This is a rock-step and chassé to link from open position, followed by quick walks and chassé round to the right. It is a little like the Natural Top in the Cha-Cha.
|Link (FP, LRH-CH)||Whip (FP-ORP-FP, CH)|
This is an interrupted Alemana Reverse Turn. From an open position, the man leads the lady in and to the left on the first rock-step and chassé. He uses his right hand on her back to stop her completing the turn. She then dances a rock-step and chassé back out to the right. His rock-step is forwards and low - more like a lunge. The man should look up at the lady before rising for his chassé.
|Stop ... (FP-SRP, LRH)||... and Go (SRP-FP, LRH)|