Chorus #1: The Original Shim Sham
Chorus #2: The Freeze Chorus
Chorus #3: The Shim Sham II
The Shim Sham Shimmy, or just Shim Sham originally is a particular tap dance routine and is regarded as tap dance’s national anthem.
At the end of many performances, all of the musicians, singers, and dancers would get together on stage and do one last routine: the Shim Sham Shimmy. Tap dancers would perform technical variations, while singers and musicians would shuffle along as they were able.
There are several variations of “shim sham” choreography. There is the choreography used by Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant, as well as a number of variations by Leonard Reed and others. Other “shim sham” choreographies include ones by Frankie Manning, Al Minns and Leon James (also called the “Savoy Shim Sham”), and Dean Collins.
The Leonard Reed Shim Shams
• The Original Shim Sham, circa 1927 is a 32 bar chorus composed of 4 steps and a break
• The Freeze Chorus, circa 1930’s is the same as the Original Shim Sham, but without the breaks
• The Joe Louis Shuffle Shim Sham, circa 1948 is a tap-swing dance 32 bar chorus number that Leonard Reed performed with the World Heavyweight Boxing champ Joe Louis
• The Shim Sham II, circa 1994 is a 32 bar chorus dance based on the Original Shim Sham
• The Revenge of the Shim Sham, circa 2002 is a 32 bar chorus dance, and is Leonard Reed’s final Shim Sham, which builds elegantly upon his original four.
The Shim Sham goes best with swing songs whose melody lines start on beat eight, as does the choreography. An obvious choice is The Shim Sham Song (Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra), which was written specifically for this dance and has musical effects (e.g., breaks) in all the right places. However, today the Shim Sham — particularly the Frankie Manning version — is danced more often to “‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That Cha Do It)” by Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra, or “Tuxedo Junction” by Erskine Hawkins. There is also a recording “Stompin’ at the Savoy” with the George Gee band where Manning himself calls out the moves.
Here are some songs that Tap Fever Studios likes to use: