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Country Line Dancing

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Shuffle, slide, pivot, tap your heels, tap your toes and then bump hips with your neighbour. No, they won't get mad. That's what you're supposed to do when you're line dancing!

Line dancing is good for anyone who likes a little boot scooting action. The Boot II Dance Demo Team enjoys kicking it up.
Courtesy: Pearl Pullman

But don't think you can do just anything on the dance floor. To be a true line dancer, you must be in synch and step out through a series of prearranged steps just like everybody else.

Whether you dance in a duo or solo, country line dancing is a good activity for anyone who likes a little boot scooting action.

"It's fun," says Wayne Beckett. "I like to dance, that's fun. Relating to people, that's fun. I have always liked music. They all go nicely together."

Country line dancing is great exercise and a wonderful social opportunity, because anyone can -- and does -- take part. "I've made lots of new friends at the clubs we go to, and it's great exercise," says Belinda Rhinehardt of Twinsburg, Ohio.

Pearl Pullman of Akron, Ohio, thinks the relationships you make while line dancing are the best thing about line dancing. "Our entire family takes part," she says. "I have foster children who join, too."

"Country line dancing gives you more of a chance to meet people -- good people," says Dawn Cooper of Cape May, New Jersey. "I've met quite a few very good friends, and you don't necessarily have to have a partner."

Line dancing is good for you, too. "It releases 'feel-good' [endorphins] chemicals in the brain that have actually helped some suicidal individuals," Pullman says. "It helped me lose the few pounds that were adding up."

So who's doing it? "I've taught children as young as five as well as adults up in the 80s," Cooper says. "Anybody of any age, shape or form can line dance." People with disabilities can adapt the moves as necessary. However, most line dancers tend to be young.

"Our clubs are the most youthful," Pullman says. "Sunday, which is 99.9 per cent teens, is our second largest night. Wednesday is our largest when college kids get $1 off with ID."

There aren't any firm statistics on the number of people line dancing across North America. But according to Carol Schwartz of the National Country-Western Teachers Association, there were about 75,000 students enrolled in line dancing classes across the country throughout the year.

Getting Started

Cowpokes interested in learning to line dance can take a class, follow video instructions, use a book or cruise the Internet for dance instruction sheets.

Cooper learned from a six-week dance class, but thinks you can learn any way you want. "Lessons can give you the satisfaction of seeing and doing the dances in a group. Videos viewed privately in your own home allow you to work at your own pace," she says. "Sooner or later, you get the steps right."

Pullman learned to dance in 1990 when a local nightclub offered free lessons. "I've always loved to dance and there were free lessons. I caught on quick. Very few are unable to do it."

You'll see most line dancers wearing cowboy boots. There is a practical as well as an esthetic reason. "You should be able to slide your foot on the floor," Pullman says. "One lady's knee popped out of her socket and caused lasting damage because she did a pivot in tennis shoes."

However, many dancers just come as they are. Western wear is not a requirement. "I started out in sneakers and jeans, and still dance in sneakers and jeans," Cooper says. "I've bought boots but prefer sneaks. You just can't slide as well and have to watch out for sprained ankles."

"The easiest way to find places to dance is to call the local radio station," Cooper says. "Most places will advertise on the radio to attract the widest range of listeners and dancers."

"Look in the entertainment section of your local newspaper or ask around," Rhinehardt says. "Also check online."

"It usually costs about $5 admission, lessons are free, and whatever drinks you consume," Pullman says.

"Line dancing is not expensive," Beckett says. "Classes here are $4 to $5."

Although line dancing provides many folks with plain country fun, others turn their passion into profit by teaching, competing or joining a dance team.

"Dance teams are an interesting sidebar to country western dancing," Pullman says. "They go around to fairs and other venues showing people how it's done, which has promoted the dancing. They range from seniors who are low impact, but great fun, to the serious professionals who take it all very seriously."

There is also competitive line dancing.

Some line dancing instructors offer classes through community education programs, dance venues and nightclubs. Teachers can earn up to $100 an hour, according to Pullman.


United Country Western Dance Council
P.O. Box 339
Berrien Springs , MI   49103

Country and Western Line Dance Association
41268 Carmen St.
Freemont , CA   94539


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