Despite its associations with cowboy hats and cowboy boots, line dancing originally had little to do with the 'Country and Western' scene. It certainly doesn't date back to the days of the cowboys. Line dancing first started in the USA, some time in the late s to early s. Early line dances were performed to disco music, as much as to country and western , and line dancers would dance to whatever was played. Few of the dances even had their origins in country dancing. The 'Tush Push', one of the most popular and best known line dances, was originally written to be performed to 'big band' sounds.
TAKING THE L
Essentially, a bunch of people get into one or more lines and perform a dance. The dance is usually a form of popular dance and is always choreographed. Line dancers perform the dance repeatedly and simultaneously until the song is over. Repetition of a sequence is a key aspect of line dance.
Conclusions & comments
The history of country dance doesn't actually begin in the United States. This quintessentially American dance is, like everything else in the fifty states, a melting pot of other cultures coming together and bringing their disparate influences to form something new. Settlers from England, Scotland, and Ireland brought forms of dance from the countryside festivals still performed as "contradance" as well as more courtly dances such as the pavane. At the same time, African influences were being carried over, especially after the Civil War when many African-Americans traveled west to try and make a new life far from the taint of slavery. This added a syncopation to the rhythms of the music, as well as steps that were more close to the ground and rooted in the earth. It was a vast difference from the elevated floating of the European waltz or, for that matter, the ballet. While they weren't as directly an influence, other parts of the world such as Russia and Spain also shared influences on the forms of dance , and even traces of Moorish culture crept into the music and forms of the time. At the height of the cowboy era in the West, music was changing as fast as new settlers arrived, resulting in a truly amazing mishmash of instrumentation and rhythms. It shouldn't be thought that only foreign influences caused the look of country dance as it is performed in bars and dance halls today.
When attending a country hoedown, one is bound to encounter line dancing. Line dancing is popular in honkey tonks, bars, church basements, and just about anywhere folks are gathering for a good time. The history of line dancing is extensive, though there is debate as to its origins. According to the Grizzly Rose club in Colorado, some believe that country line dancing can be traced back to the round and square dances of Europe. Others say it originated with 19th century social settlement movement folk dancing. Settlers of towns had their own songs and sounds that evolved into modern country music. In turn, dances were modified to go along with the tunes.