Surprisingly, country western dance didn’t actually begin in the United States. This uniquely American dance style is actually a melting pot of influences from many cultures. As westward expansion in the U.S. increased, it brought people together from different regions of the world who had little or no exposure to one another. Dance became a unifying language that helped bring these new Americans together.
Settlers from Europe brought dance styles from their country’s traditional festivals with them. African-American influences were also present, which added a syncopation to the rhythms, as well as steps that were closer to the ground and more rooted in the earth than those from Europe. But foreign influences were not the only ones that created country western dance. The steps and movements are also a product of the habits and dress of the American cowboy. The open-legged and “wide-stanced” steps, and the heel-toe turns likely developed due to the realities of dancing in spurs. Likewise, many of the holds tend to be more hand-to-hand rather than the full-body contact of traditional European dances, which may have been due to ladies trying to protect their clothing from being sullied or torn.
Country western dance can be broken into two categories: (1) partner dances (including lead-follow and pattern dances), and (2) group dances (including line dances and square dances). Many different partner dances are done to country western music. These include Two Step, Polka, East Coast Swing, West Coast Swing, and more.
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