Ever so often I come across the oddest little novelties. The Rock'n'Cha is a conga-line type dance which was discussed in the January, 1958 issue of Dance Magazine. The cha-cha was first introduced in the 1950s, and it seems to have spawned some weird group variants (Cha-Cha Choo-Choo Caboose, anyone?) The notes for this dance were sent to the magazine by Chicago resident Louise Ege, who attributed them to Grace Hansen, Dance Coordinator and Professional Consultant for the Chicago YMCA and head of the ballroom committee of the Chicago National Associate of Dance Masters. Mrs. Ege claimed that Chicago teens loved the dance, with it even having "replaced the Bunny Hop in their affections." I'm not sure what this says about either the taste of Chicago teens in early 1958 or the accuracy of Mrs. Ege's observations of contemporary teen culture.
The formation is a single line, hand on shoulder of the person in front. Everyone starts on the same foot and does the same moves. There are three sections to the dance: the Rock, the Penguin (!), and the Break-Away Turn, danced in a sequence of Rock-Rock-Penguin-Turn. The names of the Rock and Turn sequences are self-explanatory. The Penguin refers to the movement of that section being "like a penguin, jiggling and teetering from side to side." I usually find it best not to think too hard about this sort of simile in a dance choreography.
1 Step forward on right foot
2 Rock back on left foot
3 Step back right
4 Rock forward left
1&2 Three little steps forward: right-left-right
3&4 Three little steps backward: left-right-left
(repeat all of the above)
Step side right
2 Close with left
3 Step side right
4 Close with left
1&2 Three little steps in place: right-left-right
3&4 Three little steps in place: left-right-left
Breaking the line, start walking a circle by stepping right
2 Step left
3 Step right
4 Step left
1&2 Stamp right foot (1) and clap hands (2)
3&4 Stamp right foot (1) and clap hands (2)
Reform the line and restart from the beginning. It's not clear whether one gets back into the original line at the end of the four walking steps and does the stamp-clap sequence facing line of dance or whether everyone stamps-claps facing the same direction and then turns a quarter right to reform the line.
The esteemed editors of the ballroom section of Dance Magazine make a couple of suggestions for varying the dance a little:
- Clap twice on the second stamp-clap series (making the rhythm 5-6-7&8)
- On even repeats of the entire dance, start everything on the left foot instead
A note on starting beat
This dance presents a problem relative to cha-cha rhythm and starting beat. The sequence has a rhythm pattern of 1-2-3-4-1&2-3&4, which does not match the cha-cha sequence of 1-2-3&4-1-2-3&4. And to make matters more complicated, cha-cha does not actually start on the first beat of a measure. It starts on the second beat with the cha-cha going across the barline: 2-3-4&1-2-3-4&1.
I'm also not sure how well this was understood in 1950s America, when the cha-cha was still a very new dance and not yet as formalized as the modern ballroom version. So I can't say in a definitive way whether the dance should start on the first or second beat. But starting on the second beat, along with being correct for the dance, will match the music slightly better by at least lining up one of the cha-cha sequence with the cha-cha beat in the music:
To start off this way, I would suggest clapping on the first beat, which will get everyone's attention, and then starting off with the step forward right on the second beat. Once the dance is started, just keep going in the same rhythm.