Country Dances

Two Step – Dances carrying the name “two step” have existed at least since halfway through the nineteenth century. In this century the two-step was done for a long time as a cowboy dance. These two-steps use a rhythm that we would now call “triple-step triple-step.” In more recent times, the chasse has been altered to be a passing step. Two step dancers use “step step step step” rather than “step close step step,” yet both use the rhythm QQSS.

In this century the two-step was done for a long time as a cowboy dance. 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. However, the most important influence came from the cowboy!

The modern day two step is the main partner dance in country western dancing. The basic step occupies 6 beats of music. Similar to the 6-count swing, the steps consist of 2 quick steps (1 beat a piece) and 2 slow steps (2 beats a piece). Beyond the basic inside and outside turns, the two step incorporates many ducks, tunnels, and funky arm positioning.

As 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. During this time, two step underwent rapid growth as a social dance. Two step followed the popularity of country music to its peak in popularity in the 90’s, the competitive influence of the UCWDC has created the two step we now see today.

Nightclub (NC2) – The “two step” was developed in 1965 by a 15 year-old teen from Whitaker, Illinois named Buddy Schwimmer . Buddy was doing a line dance called “Surfer Stomp.” It was based on two steps and a stomp. This worked well with fast music, but the footwork was too slow for medium and slow tempo songs. The timing was changed and it went from a line dance to a partnership dance. This then became the dance called “two step.” Eventually in 1978, Buddy opened a dance studio in Costa Mesa, California and started teaching “nightclub two step” which is not commonly called just nightclub.

Nightclub, like all dances has gone through changes over time. It has evolved into two different-feeling dances. The original footwork was “rock in place, side” (quick, quick, slow). The country western dancers have adopted it and have included it in their competitions changing the footwork to (slow, quick, quick to better match the music). Nightclub is very gliding, continuous, strong and powerful with a big sweeping feeling. It is precise and quite technical.

Nightclub is a dance you can do in nightclubs as well as ballrooms, weddings, cruises, etc. It’s an alternative to the “slow” dance – the dance where you stand, put your hands on your partner’s waist and your partner puts her arms around your neck and you sway back and forth, back-and-forth etc., etc. It is perfect for medium and slow music. Nightclub is danced to popular music, mostly ballads and songs such as “Lady In Red,” “On the Wings of Love.” Its popularity is slowly moving east and is starting to be taught in Europe. It is just a matter of time before it is danced everywhere in the United States.

When the 70’s rolled in, John Travolta brought back couples dancing with his movie role in Saturday Night Fever. Country western dancing is what you see Debra Winger doing with Travolta in the movie “Urban Cowboy” and with Tom Berenger in the movie “Betrayed” – the kind of dancing men and women do to contemporary country western music. Country western line dancing became popular in the late 80’s into the early 90’s although without a partner it is a different animal than couples dancing. 1990 into 2000 (the height of popularity for country music) brings partner dancing back. Country western line dancing has now shifted towards country.

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