teaching the tranky doo in Atlanta! (and nerding out with a spreadsheet)

There’s this thing. I love the Tranky Doo. In fact, I love all social choreographed dances which I can perform with strangers, so I have a lot of love for the Shim Sham and the Big Apple, too. Soon, when I have a bit of time, I will have a lot of love for the Jive.

The great thing about the Tranky Doo is that it’s somewhat more complex than the Shim Sham, but not quite as complex or intimidating as the Big Apple, which tends to be faster and harder to follow along (especially in the second half). It has become increasingly popular over the last few years, though I don’t know who started this excitement — but whoever you are, thank you.

Right now in Atlanta, you can count the number of people who knew the Tranky Doo on one hand (in fact, for a long time, it was only Robbie!) — we are a little behind the curve of the nation, which has been enjoying this dance for a couple years now. However, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding this choreography, and there’s been multiple requests for a class. And that class is finally here!

I am beyond excited about this opportunity, since it will mean more people dancing with me. The details on the class are below, and I really hope that EVERYONE in Atlanta who is available comes out to learn this dance!

Where: Hot Jam
When: 7pm – 8pm, Nov 5th, 12th, and 19th
Cost: $12 (includes your admission to HJ)

In celebration of the class tomorrow, I have been seriously nerding out.

The Tranky Doo in the Spirit Moves:

(Has anyone noticed that it doesn’t look like they’re trucking at first at 1:21? Then they start at 1:23…)

One of my favorite Tranky Doo performances:

And a great one I just got sucked into watching because YouTube knows how to draw us in…

Last but not least, because I’ve been nerding out on the Tranky Doo, and because I know a hundred people will ask me “What count is that?” tomorrow, I have typed up the entire choreography on a spreadsheet. It’s not perfect, but it will keep me from fumbling on the counts and having to dance it out and think too hard.

The format is pretty straight-forward for anyone who wants to look through: it’s arranged in sets of eight-eights, and it reads from left to right, top to bottom. Green boxes mark either significant changes in movement or movements you should strive to hit, if you’re missing everything else. Let me know if you see any mistakes or important points to add and I’ll fix it up!

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7 thoughts on “teaching the tranky doo in Atlanta! (and nerding out with a spreadsheet)

    • Sara, that’s right! To read the document, just start at the top left, read up and down, then left to right. Then start at the next section of eight-eights! I tried to arrange it so it would be easier to read if you’re looking at it on a computer screen.

      My favorite Tranky Doo song is Chant of the Groove (used in the third video above). It’s probably the song that the Tranky Doo was choreographed, and I love the musicality of dancing to it. My second favorite song would be the Dipsy Doodle. Other songs are Tia Juana, and a lot of people learning use Jump Session, since it’s slow and has an easy pace.

  1. The answer to your question about who popularized the Tranky Do is probably Mike Faltesek. He was living in DC around 2003ish, and spent a lot of time looking under rocks for footage of the entire dance. Before that Frankie Manning taught a very abbreviated version; probably because he couldn’t remember the whole thing. Falty made it his mission in life to figure it all out. I remember us going to a workshop with the Jivin Lindy Hoppers when they were in town just so Falty could bug Terry Monaghan about it. Terry was Lindy Hop’s best historian and had ties to all the old timers going back to when he started in the early 1980’s.

    Eventually Falty dug up these two clips and figured out how they fit with the Spirit Moves one.


    And this is the night before one of the first times he taught the full routine

    • Jerry, I think you need to rename your blog. It’s going to be called “Swing-ipedia,” because you are like an Encyclopedia.

      Which would actually be an interesting project — to create a wiki dedicated to swing dancing? I guess that’s why we have you & Swungover, though.

      Thanks so much for the answer and videos!

  2. It was actually commonly performed to “Tuxedo Junction”. It’s only associated with “The Dipsy Doodle” because that’s the song that got overlaid on it in Spirit Moves. Personally, my favorite is the Condon/Freeman “Tia Juana”, which is why we used that for our Lindy Focus performance.

    “Jump Session” is what Manu used when I learned the routine the first time, and it’s an interesting choice for learning because it’s not only slower and more relaxed, but the length means there’s no restart.

  3. Pingback: dance posts: reference / archive | The Lindy Affair

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