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A line dance is choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows without regard for the gender of the individuals, all facing the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time. Line dancers are not in physical contact with each other. Older "line dances" have lines in which the dancers face each other, or the "line" is a circle, or all dancers in the "line" follow a leader around the dance floor; while holding the hand of the dancers beside them.[1]

Line dancing at a Country Western Dance Hall and Saloon.


History and culture

The earliest folk dances in many cultures were line dances, originating before social proprieties allowed men and women to dance together in couple dances. In early forms men and women often danced in separate lines, but the same dances are often done today in mixed lines. The Balkan countries, among others, have a rich tradition of line dance surviving to the present. These folk line dances are also performed in the international folk dance movement. Folk line dances have many forms: pairs of lines in which the dancers face each other, or a line formed into a circle, or the line follows a leader around the dance floor. The dancers may hold hands with their neighbors, or use an arm-on-shoulder hold, or hold their neighbor's belts. [2]

Although line dancing is associated with country-western music and dance, it has a similarities to folk dancing.[3] Many folk dances are danced in unison in a single, nonlinear "line", and often with a connection between dancers. The absence of a physical connection between dancers is, however, a distinguishing feature of country western line dance. Line dances have accompanied many popular music styles since the early 1970s including pop, swing, rock and roll, disco, latin (Salsa Suelta), and Jazz.[4]

The Madison was a popular line dance in the late 1950s. At least five line dances that are strongly associated with country-western music were written in the 1970s, two of which are dated to 1972: "Walkin' Wazi"[5][6] and "Cowboy Boogie",[7][8][9] five years before the disco craze created by the release of Saturday Night Fever in 1977, the same (approximate) year the "Tush Push" was created.[10] The "L.A. Hustle" began in a small Los Angeles disco in the Summer of 1975, and hit the East Coast (with modified steps) in Spring of '76 as the "Bus Stop.[11] Another 70s line dance is the "NutBush".[12]

Over a dozen line dances were created during the 1980s for country songs.[2][3] The 1980 film Urban Cowboy reflected the blurring of lines between country music and pop, and spurred renewed interest in country culture, and western fashion, music, and dance.[13] "Boot Scootin' Boogie" was choreographed by Bill Bader[14] in October of 1990 for the original Asleep at the Wheel recording of the song of the same name.[4] The Brooks and Dunn version of the song has resulted in there being at least 16 line dances with "Boot Scootin' Boogie" in the title,[15] including one by Tom Maddox and Skippy Blair under contract to the recording company.[16]

Billy Ray Cyrus' 1992 hit Achy Breaky Heart, helped catapult western line dancing into the mainstream public consciousness.[17] In 1994 choreographer Max Perry had a worldwide dance hit with "Swamp Thang" for the song of the same name by The Grid. This was a techno song that fused banjo sounds in the melody line and helped to start a trend of dancing to forms of music other than country. In this mid 1990s period country western music was influenced by the popularity of line dancing. This influence was so great that Chet Atkins was quoted as saying "The music has gotten pretty bad, I think. It's all that damn line dancing." [18]

Max Perry, along with Jo Thompson, Scott Blevins and several others, began to use ballroom rhythms and technique to take line dancing to the next level. In 1998, the band Steps created further interest outside of the U.S. with the techno dance song 5,6,7,8. In 1999 the Gap retailer debuted the "Khaki Country" ad on the Academy Awards ceremony. [5] Line dancers performed to the 1999 version of Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Dwight Yoakum.

Line dance now has very traditional dances to country music, and not so traditional dances to non country music.It 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, irish, latin just to name a few!

Line dancing is practiced and learned in country-western dance bars, social clubs, dance clubs and ballrooms worldwide. It avoids the problem of imbalance of male/female partners that plagues ballroom/swing/salsa dancing clubs. It is sometimes combined on dance programs with other forms of country-western dance, such as two-step, and western promenade dances, as well as western-style variants of the waltz, polka and swing.

The Macarena and the Chicken Dance, the later of which is danced in a circle, are other examples of line dance.

Line dancing reached Europe, nourished by the arrival of Country Music Television,[19][20] and in 2008 gained the attention of the French government.[21]


A basic is one repetition of the main dance from the first count to the last not including any tags or bridges. In competition if this is danced "as written" with no variations, it is called "plain Vanilla".

Dancers who have progressed beyond beginner status will often replace a section of a dance (say 8 beats) with a compatible set of steps which is called a variation. This is often required in competitive line dancing.

A dance will have a number of counts, for example a 64-count dance. This is the number of beats of music it would take to complete one sequence of the dance. This is not necessarily the same number of steps in the dance as steps can be performed on an and count between two beats, or sometimes a step holds over more than one beat.

A restart is a point at which the basic dance sequence is interrupted and the dance routine is started again from the beginning. Restarts are used to fit the dances to the phrasing of the music.

A dance is made up of a number of movements called steps. Each step is given a name so teachers can tell dancers to perform this step when teaching a dance. The most well-known is the grapevine (or vine for short), which is usually a three-step movement to the side, with the fourth step added to complete the measure. There can be any number of movements in one step.

A tag or bridge is an extra set of steps not part of the main dance sequence that are inserted into one or more sequences to ensure the dance fits with the phrasing of the music. The term tag usually implies only a few additional counts (e.g. 2 or 4), whereas bridge implies a longer piece (e.g. 8 or 16). The terms are generally interchangeable, however.


Step descriptions

Descriptions of some dance steps in their typical form are below. They are subject to variations in particular dances, where a stomp or a point may occur instead of a touch, for example, in the grapevine.

Chasse: One foot moves to the side, the other foot is placed next to it, and the first foot moves again to the side.

Grapevine: One foot moves to the side, the other moves behind it, the first foot moves again to the side, and the second touches next to the first. There are variations: the final step can consist of a hitch, a scuff, placement of weight on the second foot, and so forth. The name of the step is sometimes abbreviated to vine.

Weave: To the left or the right. This is a grapevine with a cross in front as well as a cross behind. Creates a slight zig zag pattern on the floor.

Triple step: This is 3 steps being taken in only 2 beats of music. Can move forward, backward, left, right or on the spot.

Shuffle step: A triple step to the front or the back, left or right side, starting on either foot. The feet slide rather than being given the staccato (short and sharp) movement of the cha-cha. There is a slight difference in the interpretation of the timing to give the element its distinctive look. It is counted as 1 & 2, 3 & 4, etc. However, the actual amount of time devoted to each of the 3 steps in the shuffle is 3/4 of a beat, 1/4 of a beat, then one full beat of music.

Lock step: A triple step backwards or forwards, starting on either foot, with the second foot slid up to and tightly locked in front of or behind the first foot before the first foot is moved a second time in the same direction as for the first step.

Other steps include applejack, botafogo, butterfly, coaster step, heel grind, hitch, jazz box, kick ball change, kick ball step, lunge, mambo step, military turn, Monterey turn, paddle, pivot turn, rock step, sailor step, scissor step, scuff, spiral turn, stamp, stomp, sugarfoot, swivet and vaudeville.


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 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 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.

  • In a one-wall dance, the dancers face the same direction at the end of the sequence as at the beginning.
  • In a two-wall dance, repetitions of the sequence end alternately at the back and front walls. In other words, the dancers have effectively turned through 180 degrees during one set. The samba line dance is an example of a two-wall dance. While doing the "volte" step, the dancers turn 180 degrees to face a new wall.
  • In a four-wall dance, the direction faced at the end of the sequence is 90 degrees to the right or left from the direction in which they faced at the beginning. As a result, the dancers face each of the four walls in turn at the end of four consecutive repetitions of the sequence, before returning to the original wall. The hustle line dance is an example of a four-wall dance because in the final figure they turn 90 degrees to the left to face a new wall.

Popular line dances

Some of the most modern and popular line dances (Mar 2010) are:

Playing With Fire (music- Alexandra Burke & Flo Rida)

NY Cha (Paloma Faith)

Wild (Susan Boyle Pop Remix)

Broken Heels (Alexandra Burke)

Love Ya (Justin Bieber)

You and I (Hera Bjork)

Walking In The Rain (Alex Swings Oscar Sings!)

Mexicali (Tobias Rene)

Why Dont We Just Dance (Josh Turner)

Hands Up (Whitney Houston)


Note: "Classic" designates old standards. Many line dances come and go, but the "classic" line dances are still with us after many years and still being danced in many parts of the world.

Achy Breaky Heart (many different versions)
After Midnight
Alley Cat - "classic"
At The Hop
Bella's Cha Cha
Bicycle Waltz
Black Coffee - "classic"
Blue Boy
Boot Scootin' Boogie - "classic" (many different versions)
Booty Call
Bosa Nova
Canadian Stomp
Celtic Slide
Cha Cha Slide
Chill Factor
Cleveland Shuffle
Come Dance With Me
Copperhead Road - "classic"
Cotton-Eyed Joe - "classic"
Cowboy Charleston (Charleston Cowboy) - "classic"
Cowgirls Twist - "classic"
Cripple Creek
Cruisin' - "classic"
Cupid Shuffle
Electric Reel
Electric Slide - "classic"
Elvira (Elvira Freeze) - "classic"
Fly Like A Bird
God Blessed Texas - "classic"
Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)
Have Fun Go Mad
Hey Bruce
The Hustle - Disco Line Dance "classic"
Islands In The Stream
Jose Cuervo '97
Mucara Walk
Mustang Sally
Patient Heart
Pensacola Slide
Play Something Country
Power Jam
Razor Sharp
Red Hot Salsa
Reggae Cowboy (a.k.a. Diamond Reggae) - "classic"
Rock Around The Clock - "classic"
Rodeo - "classic"
Slappin' Leather
Soulja Boy
Stroll Along Cha Cha - "classic"
Tennessee Twister
Tropicana Parking Lot - "classic"
Tulsa Shuffle - "classic"
Tumbleweed - "classic"
Tush Push - "classic"
Uno Dos Tres (13MWZ)
Walkin' Wazi
Waltz Across Texas - "classic"
Wild Wild West Boogie - "classic"
Zydeco Lady - "Classic"
Good Time (Alan Jackson song)
Hoedown Throwdown

See also


  1. ^ International Folk Dance at a Glance. Second Edition. Cecile Gilbert. Burgess Publishing Company. 1974. SBN 8087-0727-2
  2. ^ International Folk Dance at a Glance. Second Edition. Cecile Gilbert. Burgess Publishing Company. 1974. SBN 8087-0727-2
  3. ^ Christy Lane's Complete Book of Line Dancing. Christy Lane. 2000, 1995. Human Kinetics. pages 3, 4. ISBN 0-7360-0067-4
  4. ^ Christy Lane's Complete Book of Line Dancing. Christy Lane. 2000, 1995. Human Kinetics. page 3. ISBN 0-7360-0067-4
  5. ^ step sheet at
  6. ^ more on "early history" on Walkin Wazi
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Kentucky Ken" resume
  9. ^ Doris Volz presents a note from Kentucky Ken
  10. ^ original step sheet
  11. ^ The Complete Guide to Disco Dancing. Karen L. Lustgarten. 1978. Warner Books. page 86. ISBN 0-446-87943-6
  12. ^]
  13. ^ Christy Lane's Complete Book of Line Dancing. Christy Lane. 2000, 1995. Human Kinetics. page 3. ISBN 0-7360-0067-4
  14. ^ Bill Bader's Website for Linedancers
  15. ^ "Boot Scootin' Boogie" step sheets at Kickit
  16. ^ see Blair statement
  17. ^ Christy Lane's Complete Book of Line Dancing. Christy Lane. 2000, 1995. Human Kinetics. page 3. ISBN 0-7360-0067-4
  18. ^ The Roots of Country Music" Collectors Edition by Life September 1, 1994
  19. ^ Let's Dance. Paul Bottomer. 1998. Black Dog & Leventhal. page 65. ISBN 1-57912-049-0
  20. ^ CMT Europe clips
  21. ^ [1] Oui Ha! France brings line dancing craze under state control
  22. ^

External links

World records

Line dance resources

Major line dance events and competitions

Simple English

Line dancing is a form of dance that uses (normally Western American) country music to dance to in lines (not usually with a partner, although there are a few partner variations of the normal dance available).


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