A line dance is a choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows, all facing in the same direction, and executing steps at the same time for the duration of the music.
The sequences, often called a "wall", most commonly last for 32, 48 or 64 beats of the music and can include tags, phrasing and restarts.
Although there are usually several lines of dancers, small groups may only form one line, but it's still considered a line dance even if only two people are participating.
Line dancers are not in physical contact with each other.
Although a variety of music may be used, the major emphasis is on country and western music.
Line dancing is most directly descended from the 1970's disco era, when America saw a variety of new dances emerge. In this same era, country and western line dancing emerged although it was not until later, in the 1980's that the term "line dancing" was coined and used. Some claim that line dancing finds its roots in historical folk dances, in particular contra dancing which shares key similarities with many of todays line dances; others say it stemmed from contemporary disco. Whatever its source, popularity and growth of line dancing has been inextricably tied to country and western music.
In 1980 Jim Ferrazzano choreographed the "Tush Push", which is still a well known line dance today. This is the first known choreographed line dance.
In 1992 Billy Ray Cyrus released "Achy Breaky Heart". As part of the promotion for his song, Melanie Greenwood was asked to choreograph a dance to the song. The song went on to become one of the biggest country songs of the 1990's. The huge success of the song also brought line dancing into the awareness of the general public. Thanks to it's connection to Cyrus' song, line dancing became identified with country music.
Since its birth, line dancing began incorporating many musical styles besides country, and country music began to appear in the pop charts. Line dancing choreographers were becoming increasingly experienced and were beginning to experiment, looking to other musical styles and writing dances to songs that they liked, rather than writing dances to currently popular country songs. Line dancing now uses more than just the "stereotypical" country music, in fact line dancers dance to most styles of music: country as well as modern pop music, Irish and Latin just to name a few.
Now line dancing is considered an art form of its own, with its own terminology and standardised steps.
The popular impression is that line dancing is counrty. To the average non-line dancer, line dancing consists of people dressed up in cowboy gear shuffling around to old country classics. While some line dancers do still dress up in western gear today, that look has become almost extinct.
Basic line dances focus on movements of the legs and feet, with more advanced dances including the arms and hands. The movements of a line dance are marked as "counts" where one count generally equals one musical beat, with a particular movement or step taking place at each beat.
A line dance will have a certain number of counts, meaning the number of beats in one complete sequence of the dance. For example, a 64-count dance would contain 64 beats. The number of beats does not necessarily equal the numnber of steps, however, as steps can be performed between two beats or over more than one beat.
Each dance is said to consist of a number of "walls". A wall is the direction in which the dancers face at any given time: the front (the direction faced at the beginning of the dance), the back or one of the two sides. Dancers may change direction many times during a sequence, and may even, at any given point, be facing in a direction half-way between the two walls; but at the end of the sequence they will be facing the original wall or any of the other three. Whichever wall that is, the next iteration of the sequence uses that wall as the new frame of reference.
The number of walls can vary from line dance to line dance. Some dances are strictly two-wall dances. Four wall dances are the most common type of line dance. Given there are only four cardinal directions, line dances will never exceed a fourth wall. Though rare, some dances only face one wall.
Because its steps are simple, easy to pick up and follow and don't involve dancing with a partner, line dancing is ideal for singles and non-dancers alike. It is one that is individualistic and yet a group dance. Line dancing is taught and practiced in country and western dance bars, social clubs and dance halls around the world. If you can shake a leg, you can join the gang!
Wherever the line dance originated, one thing's for certain: this easy-to-learn dance format isn't going anywhere anytime soon!
1. Line Dancing Is Good Fun
Most people take up line dancing because it's great fun, with smiles and lots of laughter. Why don't you take yourself along to my class and try it for yourself. You'll soon see that along with the steps and music, comes fun and laughter.
2. You'll Make New Friends
You will meet lots of lovely and friendly people on the dance floor, both at class and at socials. People who will welcome you and help you to learn - everyone was a beginner once. Line dancers are known as the most friendly group of people you will ever meet.
3. You'll Enjoy The Exercise
Besides going to the gym, there are few other ways you can take regular exercise in all weathers and have such good fun. If you haven't exercised for a while and need to get fit, line dancing is an ideal way to start. It is gentle and has many health benefits. It keeps your joints moving, your muscles active, your brain active and improves blood circulation, all of which make you feel great.
4. It Is Not That Hard To Learn To Line Dance
Don't be afraid - anyone can learn to line dance. The great thing about line dancing is that anyone can do it. You may never have danced before but you will be surprised how quickly you get to grips with it. It only takes a bit of practice - honestly. Pretty soon, you'll be up there, strutting your stuff with confidence. Admittedly, some learn faster than others but you will get there. If you don't want to move up to the higher levels, that is fine, it is your choice. My classes cater for all levels and all tastes in music.
5. You Don't Need A Partner
It's so liberating not to have to have a partner - no need to worry about being turned down if you ask a lady to dance or as a lady, you don't get asked. You can dance or you can sit and watch as you please. Line dancing has transformed the life of so many people from widows / widowers, singles / divorcees to ladies and gents whose spouse / partner do not dance and have no wish to. Many marriages have been made through line dancing. Of course it is great if other members of your family wish to learn too - many families have been brought closer together where one member has started line dancing and encouraged other family members, including their children, to give it a go.
6. Line Dancing Gives You A Feel Good Factor
No matter where you are - at one of my classes, a social event or a line dance weekend / festival - you'll always be in good company and the feel good factor starts long before the dancing even starts. You'll feel the buzz, the electric atmosphere and the anticipation as soon as you arrive. Soon you'll find yourself dancing without worrying about who is watching.
7. Line Dancing Will Improve Your Memory
An extra bonus is that you will be training your memory to learn lots of different dance patterns and developing the ability to recall them when the music starts. It's a great mental exercise and you will get the old grey matter going and develop muscle memory. Everyone goes wrong or gets a mental block now and again - our brains don't always work as we want them to but that doesn't matter, we can laugh at our mistakes.
8. Your Confidence Will Increase
After a while, feelings of frustration and maybe confusion too, wondering if you're ever going to master it, will fade away. As you realise the progress you have made, you will become confident, proud of yourself and feel a sense of achievement.
9. Line Dancing Relieves Stress And Anxiety
Line dancing also helps to relieve stress and tension. It takes your mind off your problems. Your body releases endorphins - the feel good hormones which lift the spirit. So line dancing can help to reduce depression.
10. Passing On Your Love Of Line Dance
It won't be long before you start to share the joy with everyone you know. You'll become a line dance addict, encouraging everyone you know to join the line. You might even become a line dance bore.
Why Not Give It A Go