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One Figure 

A Step is a movement of the foot from here to there. A Figure is a specific sequence of steps forming a set that is complete, is often standardized, and is widely accepted and used as one component of a dance routine.

Jive, The Tunnel

by Harold & Meredith Sears

The Tunnel

The Jive version of this figure, from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD, 1974), is 3 1/2 measures and 18 steps. In facing position, man facing wall, and with a R/R handshake, we rock apart L (W apart R), recover. During the first triple, the man dances a forward chasse LRL and turns RF 1/4. At the same time, he raises R hands and turns the lady LF in a reverse underarm turn, and she dances a forward chasse RLR, passing his right side, and turning LF 1/2 to face wall. At the end of the first triple, we are in an L-position, man facing RLOD, lady facing wall, right hands still joined in front of the lady. During the second triple, the man dances a small locking chasse, forward R/cross L loosely behind R, forward R, curving RF 1/4, to face lady and COH. At the same time, he moves his L arm behind his back so that his L hand is at his right side ready to take the lady's L hand. The lady dances a small chasse to the side LRL with no turn and moves her L hand across and under joined R hands to take his L hand. At the end of this second triple, we are facing partner and COH, close to partner, and with a R/R handshake and a man's left-hand hammerlock. We have danced 123a4; 1a2. We keep this double hand hold until the end of the figure.

Next, we rock apart, recover, with a very small step given the constraint of the hammerlock. During the triple, the man dances a chasse in place, LRL, and forms his right-side tunnel. He extends his right arm to the side about at shoulder level, adjusting for the relative heights of the two partners. He allows his R hand to hang down from his wrist and maintains finger-tip pressure only. The lady goes through her first tunnel by ducking her head and dancing a forward chasse, RLR, passing the man's right side and under his right arm to a back-to-back position, man facing COH and lady facing wall, with double finger-tip hold, R/R and L/L, hands crossed in front of lady, R hands on top. We have danced 34; 1a2.

Last, the man steps in place, RL, and the lady closes L to R and steps side R to the man's left side. She is still facing wall and still with crossed arms. During the last triple, the man chasses in place RLR, and raises his left arm, forming his left-side tunnel. The lady ducks her head and dances a back chasse LRL, or she may use 3 back running steps to back through the tunnel. We release R hands and then L hands and end in left open facing position, joining lead hands. We have again danced 34; 1a2.

A simple exit would be Change Left to Right to face wall again.

We found a Jitterbug version on You Tube that is 4 1/2 measures and 24 steps. We start in a facing, cross-hand position this time, R hands on top. We keep this double hand hold until the end of the figure. We rock apart L, recover R (W RL) bringing the lady to the man's left side. During the first triple, he passes to the outside of the circle, turning 1/4 RF under R hands, and she passes to the inside of the circle, turning 1/4 LF, but L hands are kept low. At this point, we are in a sort-of side-by-side tamara position, L hands low and behind his back, R hands high. He is facing RLOD and she is facing LOD. During the second triple, we continue the turn to face, man facing COH, lady facing wall, with L arm behind his back, L hands at his right side (a L hammerlock), and R hands still on top. Should you attempt this, be sure to keep your handholds loose and at the finger tips, your steps compact. We have danced 123a4; 1a2.

Next, we rock apart L, recover R, (W RL) with small steps. During the triple, the man dances a chasse in place, LRL, and extends his right arm to the side. She goes through her first tunnel by ducking her head and dancing a forward chasse, RLR, passing the man's right side and under his right arm to a back-to-back position, man facing COH and lady facing wall, with double finger-tip hold, R/R and L/L, hands crossed in front of lady, R hands on top. During the second triple, she backs through her second tunnel. She dances a back chasse LRL, backing under his extended L arm. Now we are facing, the man is in a R hammerlock, and L hands are on top. We have danced 34; 1a23a4.

During the third part, we again rock apart, recover, and she ducks and dances forward through the man's left-arm tunnel (3rd tunnel action) to a back-to-back position, and then she dances back through the man's right-arm tunnel (4th tunnel action), releasing L hands, then R hands, and ending in a facing position with lead hands joined. We have danced 123a4; 1a2.

Notice that these jive and jitterbug versions do have fundamental similarities. Both consist of three parts. In both, the first part is a rock, recover, and two triples, and we change sides and end in the man's L hammerlock, cross-hands position. (How we got there is quite different.) Then, the second and third parts are extended in the jitterbug version. Each is rock, recover, and two triples, instead of rock, recover, and one triple in the jive version. And each contains two tunnel actions, instead of only one in the jive version. The jitterbug version is also more of an arm-breaker because we take the double handhold sooner, and we keep it through more of the close, even cramped, tunneling activity.

Modified Tunnel

We've never seen The Tunnel (either version) in a round dance. But Fat Cat Boogie, a phase VI Single Swing by the DeChennes (1998), has a Modified Tunnel. In left open facing position, lead hands joined, man facing wall, we rock apart L recover R (W RL). In single swing, each triple is danced as a single slow step, and during the first "slow," the man turns 1/4 RF and steps side L, and the lady steps forward R under joined lead hands and turns 1/4 RF, to a back-to-back position, man facing RLOD and lady facing LOD. She has passed his left shoulder. Lead hands are still joined. Next, the man closes R to L and joins trail hands, and the lady steps side L. This step is danced as a "slow," and we are back to back with all hands joined low. We release lead hands, raise trail arms, he steps back L, and she ducks her head and steps back R through his right-arm tunnel. We end with a side step R (W bk L) to face partner and RLOD in open facing position. We have danced QQS; SS; S. All in all, this figure has been modified in some comfortable ways. It is only 2 1/2 measures, there is only one tunnel action, and there is no hammerlock.

Tunnel Exit

Several round dances, in a variety of rhythms, make use of a Tunnel Exit. Where a full Tunnel runs for 2-, 3-, or 4-1/2 measures, a Tunnel Exit is just one measure and of course consists of the tunneling action itself, the passing under an arm in some manner.

In Draggin' the Line, a West Coast Swing by the Preskitts (2005), we have a Wrapped Whip with a Tunnel Exit. We do the first measure of the Wrapped Whip as usual, ending in wrapped position, man facing RLOD. Now, in our footwork, we dance the normal "whip" exit. It is in the arms that we have a "tunnel" exit. He crosses his R in back of L. Normally, he would release trail hands, but in the Tunnel Exit, he raises joined trail arms so the lady can "tunnel" under. He steps forward L to face. At the same time, the lady steps back L, ducking to pass under raised trail arms, and then back R. We dance our Anchor Step and end facing with both hands still joined and arms crossed, R on top. The Tunnel Exit is simply the lady backing under joined trail arms.

In All the Things You Are, a Foxtrot by the Moores (2002), we have the same one-measure tunnel action, called Lady Wrap To Tuck and Tunnel. We are facing partner and RLOD with lead feet free and trail hands joined. The man has no steps. The lady turns LF and steps side R joining lead hands. She hooks L in back of R continuing to turn. On the third beat, she ducks low in wrapped position and steps side and back R "tunneling" under joined trail arms. We release joined hands, take L hands, and she steps back L. The lady's timing has been QQQQ. As in the west coast swing above, this foxtrot Tunnel Exit is a simple backing under the man's raised right arm.

In round dancing, the Tunnel Exit has been more heavily used in Slow Two Step. In Are You Still Mine, by Kiehm and Goss (1992), we have a Triple Traveler overturned with a Tunnel Exit. The third and last measure of the Triple Traveler is an Outside Roll for the lady. Here, she twirls RLR and crosses in front of the man from the inside to the outside of the circle. She ends facing RLOD and the man DLW with joined lead hands high. Now, the Tunnel Exit is the man dancing forward R under his L arm back to the outside of the circle, while the lady circles RF to left open position both facing LOD. We then do an Outside Roll to a Basic End man facing COH.

In Beat Of Your Heart by Preskitt (2008), there is a Triple Traveler (not overturned) to a Tunnel Exit. Here, the Triple Traveler ends in left open facing position, man facing COH. The Tunnel Exit is the man checking forward R and leading the lady forward LRL around toward the wall. The man recovers L and steps forward R turning LF under his left arm to left open position both facing RLOD. We continue with an Outside Roll toward RLOD. There is this same sequence in My, My, Time Flies! by Woodruff (2009).

In the slow two step, we have come a long way from the original Tunnel. The man is going under the arm, not the lady. There are no crossed arms or other constraint and therefore no ducking or "worming one's way through." In the dancing, it feels more like a "lariat man turns" than a Tunnel. (You don't suppose that choreographers realized that, for the man to tunnel, the action would have greatly to be simplified? :-)


More jive figures here, or go to index.


This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, December, 2011.



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Past DRDC Educational Articles by
Jim & Barbara German, ca. 2000-2001
Chris & Terri Cantrell, 2001-2005
Harold & Meredith Sears, 2005-present

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