Getting started with the bullwhip or been cracking it for years? TheReenactors.com’s historical news team caught up with bullwhip expert handler, Robert Dante (WildWestWhips.com), to learn more about the Art of the Whip and how others may learn from his experience.
TR: Did you have a mentor, idol, or role model as you learned your skill?
RD: I had no mentor, idol or role model. I talked to everyone, I learned from everyone, and I was fortunate enough to consider some great whip
handlers my friends.
TR: Do you recommend any videos or books for the beginner?
RD: All beginners should buy my book -- it's the book I wish I'd had when I was starting out ("Let's Get Cracking! The How-To Book of Bullwhip Skills").
As for videos, until I produce the DVD version of the aforementioned book, I
can recommend several: Mark Allen's, Mike Murphy's, Peter Jack's, and a few
others. I also highly recommend checking out YouTube -- there are some good
ones on there.
TR: Any specific tools of the trade you would recommend?
RD: Specific tools of the trade? A good whip, eye protection, a hat, and a
whip repair kit (needle-nose pliers, scissors, string to make crackers, a
fid, leather conditioner, etc). Everything else I could mention would be
helpful, but these are the basics and will serve the whip handler well.
TR: If you were to give any words of advice to a beginner, then what would they be?
RD: Here are examples of what I tend to say again and again:
"Where's the belly?"
"Why did the whip do that? How did you tell the whip to do that?"
"Ride the horse in the direction it's going."
"Go big and you can go slow."
"Slow down -- you can't make the crack get there before the whip does."
TR: How did you transition from beginner to a performer getting booked?
RD: I made the transition from beginner to a performer gradually, by people
coming up and asking me if I was available to do fundraisers, classes, etc.
As for advice to the beginner making the transition from amateur to pro, I
have a few things to say: Keep all your doors open -- learn from everyone,
and thank them. The bigger you are, the lower you have to bow. And if you
are good enough to be considered a pro, you should be paid like one -- if
folks want to pay peanuts, tell them they'll get monkeys instead of
About Robert Dante:
From Wild West to Steampunk, from Fundraiser to Circus, from Corporate to Private, you can add flash to your event with the services of Bullwhip Expert ROBERT DANTE. A three-time Guinness World Record holder (most bullwhip cracks in one minute – 254), Dante presents whips shows at Wild West events, burlesque shows, corporate functions and fundraisers and in clubs. Dante, author of “Let's Get Cracking! The How-To Book of Bullwhip Skills,” is a recipient of the Brian Chic Award, presented annually by the Society of American Whip Artistry. Dante has performed professionally for nearly 20 years. With assistant Mary Anderson, Dante cracks his whips coast to coast, and whether he's giving shows or lessons, he's always an ambassador for whip cracking. www.wildwestwhips.com