Yee-hah! Country and western dancing is a fun and energetic activity that’s traditionally set to American country folk music. Incorporating line and square dancing, country and western grooves will soon have you dancing your way to fitness in no time. So what are you waiting for? Grab your cowboy hat and read our guide on how country and western dance could set you on course for a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Country and western dance is a hugely popular form of expression that evolved during the Twentieth Century. With its origins in American barn dances, swing and even Irish jigging. It has proven a great communal activity, getting people moving at parties, theme nights and country festivals.
Although traditionally (and some would say wrongly) associated with cowboy hat-sporting revelers, moving along to ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ or ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, country and western dance contains a number of key styles and moves, making it more than just an excuse to get merry. With line and square dance inspiring people of all ages (and sizes) across the world, there really has never been a better time to enjoy country and western dancing.
Improving the body’s core muscles - Country and western dancers are required to carry out a number of energetic moves and steps across the dance floor. As a result, this dance offers a fine way to strengthen the body’s core muscles.
Potentially reducing blood pressure - With quick steps and expressive arm movements, country and western dance exercise forces an increase in heart rate to push more blood around the body. This can potentially reduce blood pressure over time, energising muscles more efficiently.
Building up stamina - Regular country and western classes will gradually build up your stamina, so that your body deals better with the whole concept of exercising.
Helping to prevent osteoporosis - Osteoporosis is a disease that can make bones more susceptible to fractures and breakage. Thankfully, help could be at hand in the unlikely form of country and western dance, which can strengthen the skeleton and bone structure. Country and western dance can help build bones of all ages.
Keeps the brain active - Country and western dancing also brings many psychological benefits such as improving: coordination, alertness and concentration levels.
Styles of country and western dancing
Country and western dancing can take a number of different forms, with line dancing being the most popular. Here are some of the key country and western dance styles:
Line dancing - Line dance is a hugely popular form of country and western dancing. It is a highly choreographed activity, with groups of people performing repeated sequences of steps, in time to one and other, whilst standing in straight lines. Although a non-contact style of dance, line dancing still offers a great way to meet people and make new friends in the process.
Square dancing - Originating from traditional English folk styles, such as Morris dancing, square dancing is a lively and fast style. This type sees four couples follow intricate steps and sequences around a square, generally to the tune of fiddle and banjo music.
Western promenade dance - This is a partner dance, with performers dancing side-by-side and holding hands throughout a series of steps and turns which dancers perform identically. The style of accompanying music sets the pace, with modern country or traditional folk songs leading to a great form of exercise.
What to expect from your first class
Country and western dancing isn’t all about high kicks, knee-slapping, and pretending to lasso imaginary cattle. Instead, it contains a number of intricate turns and steps that may appear quite complex to the complete dance novice. As a result, don’t go along to a country and western class expecting to immediately become king of the prairies. Your first lesson will be a fun and sociable experience but it’s vital you listen carefully to your instructor’s advice.
Key country and western dancing tips
Country and western dancing really is great for your health. However, to really enjoy this entertaining form of exercise, it’s vital you take it seriously in the early days, as you slowly master the basic moves. Country dancing requires a large degree of concentration and effort, so don’t assume you’ll simply pick things up right away.