Country Dancing

What is Country Western Dancing?

Country dancing is lots of fun!  It is a chance to get together with fun-loving folks and enjoy moving to the music in a  lightly organized fashion. It remains a family activity in many rural communities; the centerpiece of a social gathering to celebrate family, community, or holiday events.

Why Dance?

Because it is fun! Country Western dancing is a cherished tradition and a wonderful way to meet new friends.  It is a great way to enjoy the music and get in a little exercise.

Who are the Country Dancers?

They are people just like you who enjoy the company of quality folks, like exchanging views on music, places & opportunities to dance, and find satisfaction from the life affirming activity of social dancing. They come together to experience the great feeling that comes from moving in sync with the music and each other

Sure dancers hang out and dance at bars and clubs, since that is where the music is.  Though some enjoy a cold beer or other alcoholic beverage; many drink Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper as their beverage of choice. (The important thing is to purchase something from the bar, even bottled water, to support the venue and keep dancers in good graces with management.)

Dancers are young and old and all ages in between. They wear jeans or slacks or skirts, cotton or silk, boots or shoes, hats or not. Whether single and married, dancers love to swap partners every song or two, because it is fun and an excellent way to improve your skills on the dance floor.  Dancers are waiters and college professors, construction workers and engineers, clerks and managers, Republicans and Democrats and Independents (although no one really discusses politics or religion… too busy dancing and having fun.)

Do I need to buy Boots?

On wooden dance floors you’ll really want to have leather soled boots or shoes. Wear boots or smooth-soled shoes – avoid wearing flip-flops or clogs or any style that is not secure on your foot.  You may choose to purchase professional dance shoes/boots, but if you’re on a budget, bowling shoes and moccasins actually work well.  (You can even take a pair of your favorite athletic shoes to a local shoe/boot shop and have industrial quality suede on the bottom) 

Helpful hints for the novice:

These are not rules, per se’, but if you want willing partners next time you go to the dance hall, you will do well to heed this advice (with a grain of salt, if need be.)

They call it “boot scooting” for a reason. If you are picking your feet off the floor more than you need for clearance, you might be doing something wrong.  You want to be smooth and glide just above the surface of the dance floor. Avoid rocking and bopping the upper body.

If space is tight, dance tight. A sure sign of an amateur is somebody who doesn’t adjust the size of their steps and the amount of dance floor covered based on the available room.  When the floor is crowded, pull in your elbows and don’t make big movements that cover larger portions of the floor than necessary.

When dancing to live music – clap those hands as you make your way off the dance floor after a song.  The musicians appreciate the acknowledgement and your applause actually feeds the energy on stage.

Guys, it is your responsibility to lead the lady. Communicate your intentions with your movements or talk to her. When you lead, be confident and firm if need be, but never jerk the lady around or use undue force.

Gals, it is your responsibility to follow the gent. In order to sense his intentions, you need to keep some muscle tension in your arms to feel the gent’s movements.  Limp spaghetti arms will not do the job. You shouldn’t need to hang-on like a sack of potatoes, either, balance and move of your own accord, but following his lead for direction and speed.

Guy or gal, if you are the one moving forward, keep your eyes out for potential collisions. Gals, if you are headed for trouble, this is the one time to take control briefly and to steer yourselves out of trouble – firmly pull or push your partner out of harm’s way.

Keep a good attitude when you’re on a crowded floor; so when you do run into another couple, give them a quick friendly grin, and you might even give a quick verbal ‘sorry’

Gals, if you want to dance, stand near the dance floor. If you see a gent who looks like he is dancing with multiple partners, then it is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged by many) to ask him to dance, this is the 21st century. If a fella asks you to dance, consider saying “yes” even if he is not your first choice of partner. When other guys see you dancing, then they are more likely to ask you to dance.

If someone asks you for a dance, afterwards, regardless of your partner’s ability, always give a sincere “thank you ” upon conclusion. It is only good manners.

Country Dance Floor Etiquette (Rules of the Road)

No drinks, no smokes, no purses on the dance floor.

This is a safety issue and will get you thrown out of some halls. Ladies, find a friend or another gal to watch your purse; the experienced gal will only bring the essentials – you can put your money and ID in a pocket or your boot.  If you are unsure of your surroundings, you can leave your purse on the table.  Another good idea – if you must bring a purse – is to hook the handle around the leg of your chair.  If someone tries to grab the purse – they’ll be surprised by the loud racket from the chair flipping over as they grab and run.

Couples circulate in a counter-clockwise direction around the floor where there is room. Yield the outside of the circle to the faster dancers. If you want to do some of the start and stop pattern dances or swing steps move closer to the center of the circle so you won’t block other dancers

Please do not socialize on the dance floor, it is for dancing, please move off the floor if you want to visit.

Learning to dance – Advice for women

If you know how to ballroom or swing dance, and are a quick study, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble picking up the country-western steps. Ask your potential partner if he feels comfortable showing you the steps.  If that is doesn’t work out, then you may be able to learn the basics with the help of a friend, either off to the side of the dance floor or in your living room.  Better yet, you could take a few lessons from a professional country dance instructor to learn the basics.  These lessons are usually very inexpensive and you get a life-long skill that will give you years of enjoyment.

Learning to dance – Advice for men

Guys, you need to be able to lead from the first moment you step on the floor. The public dance floor is NOT the best place to learn, sorry. If you try to learn from your partner on the floor, all you will learn is how to follow; you will not learn how to lead and leading is your “job” on the dance floor.

If you are a quick learner and generally both physically coordinated and have a good sense of rhythm, then you may be able to learn the basics with the help of a friend, either off to the side of the dance floor or, better yet, in your living room. Your best bet is to take a few country-western dance classes. These lessons are usually very inexpensive and you get a life-long skill that will give you years of enjoyment.

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