Songs for the Shim Sham

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Songs for the Shim Sham

#1 Post by Matthew » Mon Aug 18, 2003 1:09 am

Here in the Tampa Bay area we almost always play Erskine Hawkins' "Tuxedo Junction" for the Shim Sham. As I've heard, a song that's perfect for the Shim Sham (at least the Shim Sham we do here) has a certain structure. What other songs ("pieces," yes, I know) fit the Shim Sham perfectly? Thanks for any help.

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#2 Post by JesseMiner » Mon Aug 18, 2003 1:38 am

Here in San Francisco we almost always play Jimmie Lunceford's version of "T'ain't What You Do" off of Frankie's Favorites. I've heard of many DJs using "Stompin' At The Savoy". As well. Any favorite versions? Interestingly enough, the least requested song seems to be Bill Elliott's "Shim Sham Song" (Swingin' The Century).

Of course I do have fond memories of doing the "latin" Shim Sham to Ozomotli's "Cumbia De Los Muertos" (Ozomotli). ;)


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#3 Post by Roy » Mon Aug 18, 2003 7:11 am

In Chicago it's always "T'aint what you do" off of Frankie's swinging favorites CD.

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#4 Post by Lawrence » Mon Aug 18, 2003 10:19 am

"Taint Watcha Do" is the Frankie Manning favorite because the moves tend to "agree" with the melody.

However, virtually any song with an 8-bar AABA harmonic structure will work. The Shim Sham was a tap routine choreographed to follow that AABA structure. 8-bar means that the musical "paragraphs" are 8 bars long, or 4 sets of "8-count" sentences. As Paul Overton has shown, there are Hip Hop songs that follow an 8-bar AABA structure, as well, which makes them "work."

In contrast, the Jitterbug stroll is done to 12-Bar blues (6 8-count sentence paragraphs), the other dominent harmonic structure in Swing music.

BTW, who the heck wrote those campy-ass lyrics in Bill Elliot's song, anyway? Besides being campy, it is just odd. The Shim Sham is a non-partner dance, making the "So I can shim-sham with YOU" line not only campy but off-base.
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Austin Lindy Hop

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#5 Post by Roy » Mon Aug 18, 2003 10:52 am

I have seen the Shim sham done as a face to face partner dance. I don't know if that's what the lyrics are reffering to but I have seen it done.

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#6 Post by julius » Mon Aug 18, 2003 11:17 am

Leonard Reed, who created the tap shim sham that became the lindy hop shim sham (there are many shim shams), originally danced it to Turkey in the Straw.

The whole routine should be over in about a minute at that speed! And my motto is: you can never end a line dance fast enough. heh heh heh.

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#7 Post by djstarr » Mon Aug 18, 2003 1:08 pm

When we had dances at the Showbox in Seattle we would do the Shim Sham faithfully every Sunday at 10 p.m. It was to Tuxedo Junction - (I think off of Frankie Manning's Big Band CD).

We stopped doing it regularly a couple of years ago; however I was up in Vancouver at a live dance a couple of weeks ago and had a lot of fun doing the shim-sham - half the crowd did Frankie's shim-sham, the other half did Dean Collins - it was pretty cool.

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#8 Post by funkyfreak » Mon Aug 18, 2003 5:27 pm

Lawrence wrote:The Shim Sham is a non-partner dance, making the "So I can shim-sham with YOU" line not only campy but off-base.
At the end of Tap shows, everyone who Tap danced, even those in the audience, would be invited onto the stage to take part in the "Shim Sham".

Most Tap dancers did not know the same routines, so this was th eone common thread they could do together, and it became a regular thing to look forward to.

That said, I can never do the Shim Sham to that corny song. As soon as it starts, I usually die in the middle of the floor, laughing in a ball. And weeping.


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#9 Post by Shanabanana » Tue Aug 19, 2003 9:19 am

We also frequently do it to Shout and Feel It (yes, yes, from the Swing Kids with it). "Power" shim sham gets it over quickly and since people are ashamed to just walk off the dance floor, forces them to dance to a moderately fast song.

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#10 Post by Mr Awesomer » Tue Aug 19, 2003 1:10 pm

I use Chick Webb's cut of Stompin' at the Savoy.
If Frankie and Dawn can do it... SO CAN YOU!
Reuben Brown
Southern California

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#11 Post by laf » Tue Aug 19, 2003 4:28 pm

A couple of years ago, I and another local (Vancouver) dj were sick of "Tuxedo Junction" being rigidly referred to as "the Shim Sham song" (you know, like "Sing Sing Sing" is "the swing jam song"?). Another local dj would play it every night, each time announcing that it was time to do the Shim Sham.

Upon receiving a request for "the Shim Sham song," my friend (who liked "Tuxedo Junction" and wanted to rescue it from its relegation to only-for-the-Shim-Sham) cued a likely and musically appropriate song (can't remember what it was) and then announced, for the benefit of the requester, something like, "this song is for anybody who wants to do the Shim Sham."

Immediately following this song, he cued "Tuxedo Junction" and announced, "Right, so that last one was for the Shim Sham, and, as everyone knows, you can only do the Shim Sham to one song, so, since that was the Shim Sham song, this must be something else."

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shim sham song

#12 Post by smunky » Thu Aug 21, 2003 8:03 am

some of our locals figured out (don't ask me how) a while back that Xanadu worked "perfectly" for the shim sham.

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#13 Post by Soupbone » Thu Aug 21, 2003 9:49 am

In Atlanta:
Screwin' around fast shim sham = Handclappin' by Red Prysock
"Regular" shim sham = T'aint what you do by Jimmie Lunceford

Personally, I agree with Reuben (wow... that felt funny ;)), Chick Webb's Stompin at the Savoy is my personal preference.


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#14 Post by Toon Town Dave » Sat Aug 23, 2003 9:51 pm

I was thinking Benny Goodman's Peckin' might be a cool alternative. I haven't tried it on an audience yet.

No one has taught Shim Sham around here lately but back when I learned it they were playing RCR's Friday the 13th ... yes neo-swing but it worked and that was a few years ago when neo was less un-cool.

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#15 Post by Lorenzo1950 » Sun Aug 24, 2003 1:35 pm

Does anyone have the swing version of Turkey in the Straw?
Larry (Baltimore, MD)