How to dance western

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Western Dance History

Abandoned Desert Home

Photo by Sarah Lachise / Unsplash

Dance, along with music, has always dynamically expressed the spirit and personality of every culture. Modern western dance is part of this global language and its roots run wide and deep.

They can be traced to the taverns of Ireland and to the ballrooms of Europe, to the Czarist palaces of Russia and further back still to the fluid tribal rituals of Africa.

Representatives from all of these cultures brought their native dances when they landed in America. Widely differing peoples who had little or no exposure to one another gathered and danced on common ground.

The cowboy was not the most limber of creatures. The long hours in the saddle and strenuous work produced dancers of questionable finesse. He was not of a temperament to master intricate dance steps or to gracefully lead a fair maiden across the floor to the strains of a fiddler's reel.

Rather he would join a dance with a wild whoop and a goat cry. Joseph McCoy, the first great cattle baron, wrote in 1874 that the cowboy "usually enters the dance with a peculiar zest, his eyes lit up with excitement, liquor and lust. He stomps in without stopping to divest himself of his sombrero, spurs or pistols."

This dance style was not so much original as it was a spontaneous adaptation of traditional moves brought west by various immigrant cultures.

Puritanical thought, religious prohibitions and traditional customs firmly established the in East began to move West with the pioneers. Worldly pleasures such as dancing were often frowned upon, and when not altogether banned, were designed to keep contact and spontaneity at a minimum.

Consequently, it was the minuet, cotillion, pattern dances, courtly processions, and "safe" folk dances that were favored by the early settlers.

The open unexplored spaces of the West both shaped the character and determined the interaction of its settlers. People organized barn dances, husking and quilting bees, cowboy balls and get-togethers.

Invitation was by word of mouth and those who heard usually came to dance. To prevent chaos from dominating the dance floor (few people knew the same steps), a figure who soon became legendary emerged. This hero was the caller and it was his job to orchestrate the heterogeneous crowd into harmonious movement.

Working with the steps of formal quadrilles and folk dances, he added a "cowboy waltz" position and helped promote the square dance. This new hybrid was considerably more casual that the traditions from which it derived, but it still inhibited the young who were ready for a dance that would add a more intimate hold on their partner.

A new dance called the Polka started moving West. Having "the intimacy of the Waltz and the vivacity of the Irish jig", the Polka was embraced with enthusiasm.

The western population included such groups as Poles, Germans, French, Irish, Jews, Scandinavians, Czechs and Russians and each still enjoyed their own folk dances, but many found common refuge in the polka.

New hybrids were also developed, creating offspring such as the Varsouvianna and the Two Step. German settlers in El Paso, Texas developed the Schottische and line dances which were important precursors of modern western dances such as the Cotton-Eyed Joe.

Folks gathered just about anywhere to dance -- on ranches, in barns, in the wide open spaces under the stars. Slowly a dance that was specifically "western" began to evolve.

Novelty moves and styles popular in Appalachia and the South came west and were absorbed by the new settlers. The freed Black Americans in particular exerted a stylistic influence that can still be seen in today's country swing dance.

However, the most important influence came from the cowboy!

The cowboy paid little attention to traditional dance forms. One observer commented in 1873, that "some punchers danced like a bear 'round a beehive that was afraid of getting stung. Others didn't seem to know how to handle a calico, and got as rough as they do handlin' cattle in brandin' pens."

The swing of the leg when dismounting from a horse became a mighty Polka gallop. Women were handled as if the cowboy were throwing a beating calf to the ground to be branded.

Heavy army issue boots contributed to crude footwork. The habit of wearing spurs even on the dance floor forced the cowboy to keep his feet apart and shuffle as he moved to the music. Several of these cowboy mannerisms, although tamed, survive in today's modern western dance.

The "double arms over" move is reminiscent of the final "tying off" of a calf's legs prior to branding. The basic "push pull" position recaptures the rhythm of grasping the reins.

The beginning of the twentieth century brought new music and dance. In the middle of this explosion was the Black American. Their principal source of relaxation and entertainment had been their music and dance.

In the old South, contests were frequently held on the plantation to see "who owned the fastest dancer." Fascinated and envious of the rhythmic freedom of Blacks, Whites later "corked up" in black face and toured the country.

By the turn of the century carnivals, minstrel shows, medicine shows and eventually vaudeville routines frequently showcased Black dancers or White imitators.

The Black dance style was referred to as "jazz" or "eccentric dancing". These fast, gyrating, acrobatic and tap dances had names like the Turkey Trot, Grizzly Bear, Kangaroo Dip and Chicken Scratch.

Black dance was viewed as a novelty, sometimes ridiculed, but the intricate footwork and fluid motions of Black performers were slowly seeping into America's dance repertoire.

By 1916, two years after the War began, New Orleans jazz was in full bloom. Just one year later historian Bernard Grun proclaimed Chicago the "world's jazz center". Inspired by the improvisational elements in jazz, couples began to experiment on the dance floor: They separated, broke apart, twirled, and jigged.

Throughout the 1920's, radio brought music to the whole nation. Chicago radio station WLS began broadcasting the "National Barn Dance" in 1924. A year later the now famous "Grand Ole Opry" from Nashville was initiated.

In the late 1920's, George "Shorty" Snowden brought the entire Savoy Ballroom audience to its feet with his rapid, break-away solo steps. Charles Lindbergh had crossed the Atlantic in 1927 in one dramatic "hop", and when Snowden was asked what his dance was called, he replied, the "Lindy Hop".

In 1938 Benny Goodman ushered in a new jazz style. His big band swing sound was listened to around the world and soon the Lindy Hop gave birth to the Jitterbug, a fast moving combination of fancy footwork and elaborate spins, twirls and turns, many of which can still be seen in contemporary country swing moves.

One of the many fascinated listeners out West was Bob Wills. When jazz hit, Bob was struck. Eventually he formed his own western big band and helped create a genre of music known as western swing. Today's modern country swing dance derives directly from the music Wills played and the way people danced to it.

A new musical tempo could be heard after the Second Word War. Be-bop, a kind of wild and dizzying swing offshoot popular in big cities quickly gave birth to "pop" music. Rockabilly arrived in the '50's and by the middle of the decade had become known as rock 'n roll.

Rock 'n roll was music of the '50's, but the dance that accompanied it was very similar to Jitterbug and Swing. The style of dance changed dramatically in the early 1960's where partners were couples only in name and where each allowed his body to dance directly to the sounds, lights and strobes.

Couple dancing regained popularity in the mid 1970's with the emergence of Disco. In the late 1970's as Disco died and country music continued to rise in rapid popularity, a resurgence of interest in western dance emerged. Older dancers suddenly became models for a new generation.

Now that swing is back, people are dancing into the 90's with a smile, a hat and a friendly attitude!

About the Author

Jake Fuller is a staff writer for

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Polka History


Previous in History: Waltz

West Coast Swing. - Dancing rock and roll - LJ

Since there are attacks about my "dance color blindness" from advanced dancers who "have been in motion for more than 15 years", and replicas like "we don't dance" then I think it's worth sorting it out with the fact that "we dance", what historical roots it has, and what it is called. Doesn't it bother anyone in the community that when they hear the name of the dance style "rock and roll", people imagine a completely different dance? Not?

Any dance transforms over time, therefore, I want to first show the community something that is known today as West Coast Swing (West Coast Swing) The modern version looks something like this. In my personal opinion, it's a bit too "pomaded and powdered", or something, but still, I think it's worth a look.

And so that this time there will be no screams and scandal, here is a historical note with an illustration for you.
It is believed that the VKS originated from the Lindy Hop. According to reports, Dean Collins, who appeared in Los Angeles around 1937, contributed to the development of this style. Actually, thanks to this, the style got its name, literally translated as "west coast dance".
Arthur Murray, speaking of this new direction in 1947, commented: "There are hundreds of regional dances of the Jitterbug type. Every state seems to feel obliged to find some variation of its own"(1). One of his dance instructors, Laure Haile, documented the style of swing popular in the Los Angeles area. She named it Western Swing. But Murray used this name for another dance back in the late 30s (2). And since Hale first published her notes (which included "Western Swing") for the needs of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Santa Monica (Santa Monica Arthur Murray Dance Studio (3)) only 1951, needed an alternative name. So the dance got its new name "Sophisticated Swing" (which literally translates as "Sophisticated / sophisticated swing"). With this name, the dance existed throughout the fifties.(4)

Western (aka sophisticated) swing, country boogie (country boogie) and a little less well-known jump blues (jump blues) were extremely popular on the West Coast of the USA for 40 -x and 50s. True, in 1954 they were united under the name "rock and roll", but this did not diminish their popularity.

West Coast Swing was the main dance in the rehearsal scene in the 1958 film Hot Rod Gang. He performed there under the song from the album Gene Vincent (Gene Vincent) "Dance to the Bop". This music alternates between very slow losses and fiery passages with a fast rhythm, so characteristic of rock and roll music (rockabilly).
The choreographer of this scene, Dick DiAugustine, included movements that were very recognizable later. For example, chicken walk (chicken walk, literally translated as "chicken walk"), swing out (swing out) exit from a closed position, and so on. And he mixed them with the characteristic step-step-triple step-triple step (walk walk triple step triple step) of partners with an ending on the "edge of the slot". In that variation, each last triple step in the partner's combination was finished by transferring the weight to the left thigh and placing the right foot on the heel (toe up). In addition, the dancers performed classic Lindy-hop flips and independent "unpaired" ligaments, which had nothing to do with swing at all.
The modern name of the dance "West Coast Swing" was mentioned in Arthur Murray's obscure dance studio teacher's book back in the 50's. gg. However, the teachers themselves continued to use the term Western Swing in their records and schedules. in the circles of dancers and was not used until the end of the 60s.
Blair credits the invention of the West Coast Swing name to Jim Bannister, editor of the Downey-based Herald American. The new name arose because, after giving the article to the editor, Blair found out that "all Western readers from the city of Downey in 1958 did not like at all."
West Coast Swing, as taught by Murray, was danced with simple steps (walk) on 5 and 6, which went by inertia behind the triple step on 3-and-4. But the rest of the dance was plus or minus the same. At 19In 1958, dancers who were members of the Golden State Dance Teachers Association (GSTDA) began teaching their students to do the simple steps on 1 and 2 and the anchor step instead of the "inertial" simple steps on 5 and 6.
However, the name Western Swing continued to be used by online and independent dance schools to describe "slotted" swing until 1978.
Approximately at this time, another name for this dance appeared - "California Swing" (California Swing). Although, unlike its "Western" counterpart, the California swing had a slightly different styling with an emphasis on "more up" and was considered more "modern" (contemporary).
By 1978, the GSTDA had about "200 or more moves and variations" in West Coast Swing.
In 1988, West Coast Swing was inaugurated as the Official Dance of the State of California.. with illustration.

Information from the West Coast Swing forum By the way, for those who doubt, at the bottom of the page aradan collected links to sources

I hope the distinct triple steps in the historical video look convincing enough to take the words "we don't dance" back? Or is the word "bap" not repeated often enough in the video?
And by the way, folks, what are you dancing if "West Coast Swing was the main dance in the rehearsal scene in the 1958 Hot Rod Gang"?

Line dance - Line dance

Line dance at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii

A line dance choreography to dance with a repetitive sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows, all facing each other [ quote needed ] or in the same direction and doing the steps at the same time. Unlike round dance, the dancers are not in physical contact with each other.

Line dance is a form of dance performed with a group of people. Participants line up in a row and synchronously perform the same movements. [1]

Everyone dances alone, side by side, looking in the same direction in lines or rows. .... Each dance consists of a sequence of steps that are repeated throughout the music. While a variety of music may be used, the main emphasis is on country and western music. [2]

Dance line includes people standing in line and performing dance moves together. It consists of patterned foot movements that are usually performed with a certain number of counts per sequence, and then the sequence is repeated. Dances are single-walled, double-walled or four-walled. [3]

Line dancing is practiced and taught in country-western dance bars, social clubs, dance clubs and ballrooms. It is sometimes combined in dance programs with other forms of country western, such as two steps, western boardwalk dances, and western variations of the waltz, polka, and swing. From the beginning 19In the 70s, line dancing accompanied many popular musical styles, including pop, swing, rock and roll, disco, latin (salsa suelta), rhythm and blues, and jazz. [3]

Dances such as the Cha Cha Slide, Electric Slide, and Cupid Shuffle are some of the line dances that have been a part of contemporary American culture for many years.

The term "contemporary line dance" is now used in many line dance clubs around the world to indicate which dance styles will include a mix of all genres, including pop, latin, irish, big band and country. This indicates clubs that no longer wear western-style clothes or shoes. Participants dress in casual clothes and are often worn by dance coaches. These clubs help encourage young people to have fun, often dancing to music they are familiar with.


  • 1 History
    • 1.1 1950–1970
    • 1.2 1980s
    • 1.3 1990s
    • 1.4 2000
  • 2 wall
  • 5 external link


Line dance at Wikimania 2016 at Yoshino Lario

"during the same era, country and western line dances emerged", including Walkin' Wazi and Cowboy Boogie Woogie. [1] "Some argue that line dancing has its roots in historic folk dancing; others say it originated in modern disco. Whatever its source, the popularity and rise of line dancing is inextricably linked to country and western music." [2] Since its inception, "line dancing has come to include many musical styles beyond country... Country began to appear on the pop charts, and line dancing began to transcend income, race, age, and gender... considered an art form in its own right, with its own terminology and standardized steps.” [3]

"If you were to ask 10 people who knew something about when line dancing began, you would probably get 10 different answers," including: [3]

  • "In the 1800s, European immigrants traveled west to North America, bringing with them a wealth of culture, including local dances such as the polka and the waltz, the movements of which combined to form what was known as the round and the square dance. Many believe that this style of dance introduced the terms and steps used in the contemporary country line." [3]
  • "Some people believe that it was the cowboys on the western frontier, from the 1860s to the 1890s, who took these more traditional dance moves and assimilated them into the country-western style." [3]
  • "Others feel that the settlers of western states such as Texas and Oklahoma should be given credit [ sic ] with a simple walk and a rustic flair that reflects the culture of their day." [3]
  • “In the early 1900s, schools began to incorporate folk dancing into their physical education programs. Many believe that American servicemen returning home from the war influenced the spread of line dancing after being introduced to traditional European folk dances. Western dance, its popularity grew in leisure and social activities." [3]
  • There are those who "think that the real popularity of line dances came during the disco era . .. Line dances were performed to disco music." [3]
  • "Many say that 'Achy Breaky Heart' was the turning point in line dance's popularity." [3]
  • Some say it started in the slums of Calcutta; a complex and varied range of motion was used as a form of silent communication. He traveled the rough seas to the American west coast in merchant ships, where he grew in popularity. It is not documented when the communication aspect was excluded. [3]


Madison was a popular line dance in the late 1950s. The 1961 "San Francisco Stomp" fits the definition of a line dance. [4] [5] At least five line dances strongly associated with country-western music were written in the 1970s, two of which are dated 1972: "Walkin' Wazi" [6] [7] & Cowboy Boogie, [8] [9] [10] five years before the disco craze sparked by the release of Saturday Night Fever in 1977, the same (tentative) year "Toush Push" was created. [11] The Electric Slide A disco-based line dance was created and popularized in the mid-1970s. "L.A. Hustle" began at a small disco in Los Angeles in the summer of 1975 and hit the East Coast (with altered steps) in the spring of 1976 as a "bus stop". [12] [13] Another 1970s line dance is Nutbush. [14]


Over a dozen line dances were created for country songs in the 1980s. [14] [15] The 1980 film Urban Cowboy reflected the blurring of boundaries between country music and pop music and sparked a renewed interest in country culture and Western fashion, music and dance. [3] However, many early line dances were adaptations of disco dances. [16] "Boot Scootin' Boogie" directed by Bill Bader. [17] in October 1990 for the original Sleeping at the wheel recording of the song of the same name. [18] Brooks and Dunn's version of the song resulted in at least 16 line dances with "Boot Scootin' Boogie" in the title, [19] including Tom Muttox and Skippy Blair under record contract. The Chicken Dance is an example of a line dance adopted by the fashion revival in the 1980s. [20]


Billy Ray Cyrus' 1992 hit "Sick Broken Heart" helped catapult Western dance into the public consciousness. [3] In 1994 choreographer Max Perry had a worldwide dance hit. [ quote needed ] with "Swamp Thang" for the song "Swamp Thing" by Grid. It was a techno song that combined the sounds of the banjo into melodies and helped start the dance trend towards other forms of music other than country. During this period of the mid-1990s, Western country music was influenced by the popularity of line dancing. This influence was so great that Chet Atkins was quoted as saying, “I think the music got really bad. It's all those damn line dances." [21]

Max Perry, along with Joe Thompson Szymanski, Scott Blevins and several others, began using ballroom rhythms and technique to take line dancing to the next level. In 1997, the Steps group created additional interest outside the US with the techno dance song "5,6,7,8 In 1999, the retailer Gap presented an ad for "Khaki Country" at the Academy Awards. [22] Line dancers performed to the 1999 version of "A Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Dwight Yoakam.0003

The Macarena was a hit based on mid-1990s line dance.

Line dancing reached Europe with the advent of country music television. [23] [24] and in 2008 came to the attention of the French government. [25]

Line dancing is now very traditional dancing to country music, and not so traditional dancing to non-country music. Now he uses more than just "stereotypical" country music, in fact the dancers dance to most styles of music: country and modern. Pop, Irish, Latin Just to name a few.

In 2014, Durham, North Carolina was declared the Line Dance Capital of America according to US MeetUp groups per capita. [26] Some line dances include many movements, including cha-cha-cha sliding and other movements using side-to-side movement.


It is difficult to ascertain the global number of participants, but it may be in the millions, if not tens of millions. Members are often connected to each other through social media and line dancing websites. These sites offer step-by-step instructions and videos showing different dances to specific songs. It's normal for YouTube demos and tutorials about a particular dance to get millions of views.


There are now many well-developed websites dedicated to publishing instructional videos and instructions. The community of dancers is very closely connected on social media.


Each dance consists of several walls . The wall is the direction in which the dancers are facing at any given time: in front (the direction they are facing at the beginning of the dance), behind, or to one side. The dancers may change direction many times during a scene, and may even turn to face the direction in the middle between two walls at any time; but at the end of the sequence, they will be facing the original wall, or any of the other three. Whatever the wall is, the next iteration of the sequence uses that wall as the new coordinate system. [3]