I recently was asked this question: “Step forward or back on 1 for follows in lindy hop?” Ok, it was a search term that came to the site, but that’s the same thing, right? 🙂
Ok, first things first. If you’re asking the question, you’re putting yourself in the novice stage of the Dreyfus model; You’re asking for a rule. That’s fine. Novices need rules.
So what’s the answer? Let me be careful and specific about my opinion: Novice follows should step in the direction they’re led in on 1. If you’re led forward, step forward. If you’re led into a rock step OR if you have directional momentum from the previous move which leads you into a rock step, then rock-step. If you’re given no directional lead, do your footwork in place. That’s not quite as simple as stepping forward or back, I know. Step in the direction you’re led on 1, otherwise step in place. Perhaps that’s simpler re-statement.
Ok, so what are the real-world implications of this rule? Well, leads and follows have to be working on frame. If, as a novice follow, you’re not connecting well to your lead, you might miss the direction he leads. Leads, you have to lead in a direction.
Great, that’s the novice version. What’s the roadmap to the future? First there’s lots of floor-time experimenting with connection. Experimenting with tensing and relaxing different muscles along the arm, in the back, and in your core. Experimenting with different frame at different speeds, with different leads, to different rhythms, in different directions. Along the way, you’ll begin to appreciate that the directional lead can be a combination of the momentum from the last move, the connection from the lead, and choices the follow makes (presuming the lead is listening on your dance connection and not just speaking).
What rules were you given as a novice? Do you still follow them all the time? What’s the philosophical grounding for the rule? Do the lead and follow both have to agree on philosophy before agreeing to dance?