The “Art” of “The Dip”: A Stepper’s Perspective

Vic & Lisa DippingThis is one move I’ve done since my early days of urban dancing. I understand that the move is performed a variety of ways and is used in social dances like Tango, Lindy Hop, Salsa and Ballroom dancing. I like the move because it can help turn an average dance into a spectacular one, especially when executed correctly and your partner doesn’t see it coming. I’ve surprised many a dance partner with the dip for that very reason and because many of the women that I’ve dipped didn’t even know the move could be incorporated in Steppin’. Needless to say, I’ve earned a solid reputation and established a pretty good niche (something most want to do, but find it difficult to achieve) in the Steppin’ community with this move and it has taken my dance style from ok to better than average.

With the right partner, an unexpected dip can win you all sorts of cool points, enhance the “moment” of the dance and make your partner smile. On the other hand, a poorly executed dip can earn you a bad reputation and at the very worst cause someone injury. I’ve attended sets where I’ve seen guys haphazardly attempt to execute the move and throw off the flow and continuity of the dance. I’ve seen guys drop women while executing the move and I’ve seen many a guy dip their partner and while she was dipped repeat the up and down motion over and over again, taking away from the look and appeal of the move.


This pic was actually AM's very first logo!

This pic was actually AM’s very first logo!

Why is the dip so popular? I believe it is simply because of the sensual and seductive nature of move itself. You must be up close and personal to execute the move, unabashedly intimate, and the bodies of the executing couple are intertwined during the move. I think the dip has always been popular and considered sensual and seductive, but was not embraced as a part of Steppin’ when I was introduced to the dance initially. I carried the move over from my days of “Bopping” and I learned to time the move within the standard cadence of 3-beat Eight Count Steppin. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard the comment “Dipping is not Steppin’”. Steppin’ is supposed to be “cool”. Steppin’ is supposed to look effortless regardless of the complexity of moves, but I gathered that it was never supposed to look sensual or seductive. I understand the thinking, but I can tell you that I never, ever got a complaint from any woman that I have executed the move with. Not one single woman in my twelve-year tenure in the dance!! In fact, I’ve been encouraged to continue executing the move by many women and men on the Steppin scene. Some fellow male steppers even tease me and pride themselves on the fact that they could execute a “Victor James dip”. When I hear that, I know that I’ve made my mark on the dance and I consider it a great accomplishment.

Lauren DippedI never debated the fact that the dip wasn’t considered a part of Steppin, in part because I was determined to find my own way in the dance. I wanted to make myself a “preferred dance” for women because I would see how they viewed the more accomplished, seasoned steppers, or “heavy hitters” as I heard over and over in my introduction to the dance. I never wanted to be considered as a heavy hitter, but I always wanted to be “preferred”. Consistent, flawless execution has allowed me to earn the title the title of preferred and I’m happy about that. It guarantees me an evening of great dancing with people who appreciate the dance and the move for the “art” that it provides. When you’re dancing with a woman to music that the both of you love, the responsibility of the lead, in my opinion, is to view their partner as the instrument that should be played to accompany the song they’re dancing to. The dip is the move that allows one to do this perfectly, every time, with every dance, to every magical song.
What makes the dip look so smooth in Steppin’? The move looks great in any genre of dance, but it really looks nice in Steppin’ when done properly because the move can be matched to a song, a part of a song, or even an instrument or vocals in a song.

The variety of songs that are played in the Steppin’ community make the dip a perfect move for the music we dance to. My own musical preference for execution of the dip is songs with a beats per minute (BPM) rate between 80 and 85. This gives you time to smooth the move out and not rush it and you can do it more than once in the same song depending on the music (less is always more!!). Songs such as the Whispers’ “More of The Night”, “Just Us” by Frankie Beverly and Maze, “My Love’s Leavin’” by Fourplay (featuring Michael McDonald) and “You Keep Turning Me On” by Angela Winbush are examples of the songs with the tempo that I prefer. “Love Ambition” by Jason Weaver is another one. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Dancing to any of these songs get me going and you can be assured that whomever I’m dancing with will be the recipient of a dip on those songs!

Because I’ve experienced a degree of success “Dipping” so to speak, I’d like to share a few tips for the gentlemen out there who like the move, but need a little guidance. Here are a three helpful tips I can offer on when you should or shouldn’t dip and why.

    You have never done the move before. The move requires proper timing, positioning and leverage for good execution. I would urge all newbies and inexperienced steppers to resist the urge to try the move until you’ve learned how to execute it properly. A woman will only follow your lead when she senses that you know what you’re doing. If you want to earn cool points and maintain what little reputation you have in the dance, resist the urge to try this move until you’re learned it and mastered it. Resist the urge to lean, use balance. When both the lead and follow lean into the move, chances are they’ll lose their balance. There a variety of looks that you can give the move, but all of them require proper timing, positioning and balance.
  2. You get resistance from your partner when you attempt the move. Resistance from your partner can be caused by a variety of factors, but I can assure you that if your dance is found “wanting” or your lead isn’t easily discernible a dip may not be in order. If you attempt the dip despite your partner’s resistance it can lead to serious injury.
  3. You’re leaning instead of leveraging. If you’re leaning into a dip and having your partner lean with you, the both of you are off balance and headed for a fall. A good dip assures your partner that they’re safe and in good hands. They should be executed close to the body and your partner should feel more of your body and feel a sense of balance across their center point of balance.
  4. The music doesn’t warrant the execution of the move. Save the move for slower tempo songs like the ones I mentioned above. Keep in mind the fact that a slower tempo reveals every flaw in your execution of the dip and any other move for that matter. So if you’re dipping your partner, I hope you’re experienced in the dance and the technique. If you are, you’ll have a great dance and I’m confident you’ll be a preferred dance at most sets.
Chicago Steppin

Total submission to the lead…poetry in motion!

Steppin in LA

She helped me find the “OO” in my “Smooth” at Steppin for a Dream in Los, Angeles

Take the time to become proficient in the execution of the dip. You’ll be glad you did and I’m speaking from personal experience. Most ladies will tell you they enjoy being dipped, especially if they’re dancing to a song they love and you’ve made it clear from your lead that you’re in control. Trust me when I tell you, there’s no greater joy than to watch a woman smile after you’ve hit her with a dip unexpectedly and she fell right into it…she’s yours for the rest of the dance!
Have you seen the dip in action? Have you ever seen it executed poorly? Have you seen it done properly and two people having fun with it in the dance? Feel free to share your thoughts about the subject. Leave a comment in box below.

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