Author: Jenny McLachlan
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
We turn round and watch as a boy-shaped silhouette walks in. Gradually, this silhouette turns into… ‘Ollie,’ I whisper, in shock.
Bea Hogg is in deep trouble. She entered a TV dance competition with a mystery partner…who turns out to be the unbelievable hot Ollie Matthews. Boyfriend of the school’s meanest girl.
Now Bea must prepare for the fallout as national humiliation beckons. And at school she faces something far worse: Pearl Harris.
Bea is sooo dead.
What I liked: Flirty Dancing was one of the best dance books I have read (but in saying that I haven’t read too many). It was a very quick read, as it wasn’t very long, but I thoroughly enjoyed the quirkiness of the characters and the storyline. I loved the subtle messages that the author put in to the storyline about loving the body that you are in and standing up for yourself.
I absolutely loved the dance element of the book and personally didn’t know that much about the Jive before reading this book, but I certainly do now. I certainly couldn’t moon flip, Lindy Hop or Chuck like they could but I will admit I did go on YouTube and looked up some of the dance moves as well as some Jive dance routines that people have performed. This is one thing that I love about books. They just put a simple little thing like the jive into their stories and then suddenly I am looking at things that I never would have been looking at or interested in had I not read about it before.
I also loved the relationship that blossomed between Ollie and Bea. I liked how at the start we were introduced to Ollie as being one of the hottest boys in school but everyone knows that he is untouchable because he is always with Pearl. But as the story goes on we learn that Ollie doesn’t actually like Pearl because of the way she treats people and this little fact makes Bea love him more. She starts of slowly liking him but always has in the back of her mind that he doesn’t like her because she is awkward and she doesn’t think that she is very pretty. But once she gets the make-over she starts to realise that she is more beautiful than she thinks and starts to really have confidence in herself and Ollie notices this and so the relationship starts.
What I didn’t like: I don’t think there was much that I didn’t like at all. There are parts like in all books that I don’t like, for example Bea being bullied by Pearl and the extremes that Pearl actually goes to. But in saying that it is a strong topic that needs to be talked about and the author has done an excellent job in the way she has brought it up and how the characters have dealt with it. I also didn’t like how Kat was supposed to be her best friend but jumped at the chance when Pearl said that she could be a part of her dance team and then proceeded to ignore Bea a lot. A real best friend wouldn’t do that.
Favourite character: Hmmm this is a hard one. I love Bea for the changes that she goes through throughout the book. She finally learns to accept herself for the person that she is and stands up to Pearl once and for all even though in the end Pearl does hurt her. But despite being hurt she releases what a momentous occasion it is that she has finally stood up to her bully and told her what is what and she wears her bruise with pride knowing that it stands for something significant. One of the moments that I absolutely love featuring Bea is when she gets all dressed up.
I stop and stare, peering a bit closer. I look brighter, taller, more colourful… I’m blooming! I fight the urge to smile at my reflection. ‘Hello, Bea,’ I want to say. ‘There you are!’
I also love Bea’s Nana. She is just this funky little old nana that doesn’t care what anyone else thinks and does what she wants when she wants. I was so upset when she ended up in hospital.
So here is a little bit extra information that I looked up about Jiving.
I then went on to look at this great site that had some history about the Jive. This is what I found from the website http://www.modernjive.com/history/history2.html.
In the beginning
It is usually acknowledged that the grand-daddy of this dance genre was the Lindy Hop - first named as such in 1927. Some histories try to draw direct lines back into the 18th century, but if you are going to do that you might as well go back to the dawn of time, after all he "danced in the morning when the world was begun" and all dance has been related ever since! Like every dance Lindy Hop drew heavily on previous styles, but the combination of elements that made the Lindy Hop unique were the use of both open and closed positions, the use of the open position to allow both partners to improvise, and the syncopation that evolved to fit the latest musical trend: swing.
The dancers at the Savoy in Harlem were mixing dances like the Breakaway and the Charleston to create new styles. The new music told their feet to do triples, so they added triples and Lindy Hop was born with an eight-beat basic foot pattern of 1, 2, 3 & 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8. This new style proved very popular and spread rapidly. The premier dance contest in New York City from 1935 was the annual "Harvest Moon Ball", postponed initially because a crowd of 100,000 gathered and the contestants couldn't get through. In 1935 the categories were Foxtrot, Lindy Hop, Polka, Rumba, Tango and Waltz. In 1942 the name of the Lindy Hop category was changed to "Jitterbug Jive" without any explanation!
What's in a name?
The name Jitterbug apparently came about in 1934 with Cab Calloway’s band. Trombonist Harry White may have been the first to use the word, describing the dance as "like the frenzy of jittering bugs", then trumpeter Edwin Swayzee wrote a song called "Jitterbug" that became a big hit for Cab Calloway and made "Jitterbug" a household name.
The beginnings of the word "jive" are rather more obscure. It was slang, often associated with swing music or early jazz, and also with imitation, exaggeration, teasing, pretension or glib, foolish talk. It may have come from the English gibe/jibe or the West African jev - we'll never know. Why the word was associated with the dance is also unclear; perhaps because someone said "they’re just jiving" (meaning they were just fooling around), and it was mistakenly taken to mean the actual name of the dance. Cab Calloway made the word more widely known and associated it even more firmly with swing when he published the first-ever dictionary of African-American slang, The New Cab Calloway's Hepsters Dictionary: The Language of Jive, in 1938.
Throughout the 1930s Lindy/Jitterbug expanded and developed into many different styles, adding six-beat patterns and adapting to different styles and speeds of music. According to their personal predilections, dancers incorporated tap and jazz steps, or a smoother style, or added acrobatics and aerials. Frankie Manning (who is now in his nineties but still dancing today!) is credited with the first air step - flipping a girl over his back in 1936 to win a competition. Films of the period like A Day At The Races and Hellzapoppin' include amazing Lindy performances. There doesn't appear to have ever been a clear distinction between Lindy Hop and Jitterbug, though perhaps the Jitterbug was based more on six-beat patterns than Lindy was.