How the Whip got started
The most popular story told by those who have danced the Whip since the late '40s and early '50s is that after World War II ended and the GIs came back home, they wanted to try out a new dance they had learned on the West Coast of the United States. That dance was called Western Swing (later to be known as West Coast Swing). The problem was that in South Texas, the most popular music was Rhythm and Blues, a music that was slow, at about 60 to 80 beats per minutes. So naturally the dance had to be modified to fit the music. Since the slower music left extra time when doing the West Coast patterns, Texas dancers began doing more body movements and sways to fill the music. Thus Whip began to use the body more to develop a more sustained quality of working the music more.
Characteristics of the dance
The dance tempo is 4/4 timing, and the action occurs in a regimented slot as narrow as possible and as long as practical. The steps are danced with single, double, triple rhythms and their variations. The basic patterns are done in 6 or 8 beats. The more advanced movements consist of syncopating footwork and spins along with body projection, accentuating the crescendos and the lows of the rhythm, hesitating to create a sensuous smooth, sophisticated and sometimes provocative sway. Although similar to West Coast Swing, Whip is danced more sensitively to work with the music more by using body movements. The steps are done by both partners, usually together, but sometimes one partner keeps the timing and moves to one part of the music while the other executes footwork and/or body movements.
Both Whip and Push are frequently done to medium tempo Rhythm and Blues music, much the same as Carolina Shag. The Whip often works closely with the music with improvised footwork and body movements and on the last rhythm unit of a pattern with the woman doing a circular body undulation at the end of the slot, a hip bump, double resistance, or an anchor step. All of these elements develop a characteristic leverage allowing for a very well defined connection. Advanced patterns can be of any length so long as the patterns are phrased properly to the music. Advanced Whip dancing can include working the music with a lot of freezes, syncopations, wraps, multiple spins, body rolls and waves with an emphasis on connection to the partner and music.
In recent developments, West Coast Swing dancers in California have been adopting many of the traditional Whip movements and patterns and Whip dancers have been adopting some of the West Coast Swing movements and patterns. Some dancers contrast the dances by saying that the Whip uses the body and arms to work more with the music while West Coast Swing uses the feet more. The dance called Push, popular in North Texas, also has body roll steps although it is performed with slightly different footwork and body movement.