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Line dance

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Line dance

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A line dance is a formation dance in which a group of people dance in a line formation or in lines, and they all execute the same dance moves individually.

The term is applied to two slightly different types of dances.


Folk dances

Kurdish dance in line formation Kurdish dance in line formation

In a number of cultures there are line dances that may be considered a variation of circle dances, where people are joined by hands in chain, e.g., the Dabke dance of Middle East. In fact, with small numbers of dancers most circle dances, such as hora, may be danced in a line formation, rather than in a circle.

Modern social line dancing


In a small group there may be only one line, but usually there are several parallel lines, one behind the other. A dance teacher, or more experienced dancer, will usually perform on a stage or in the center of the first line. Inexperienced dancers are encouraged to take positions in the middle of the group to allow watching other dancers' feet in front of them. Experienced dancers are encouraged to take positions on the outside edges of the group to help others.

In this parallel line formation, the dancers dance in a synchronized manner, but independently of each other. There are usually no moves that require any interaction between the dancers, other than they execute the maneuvers at the same time. Each dance has a different sequence of movements that must be learned.

There are several variations to this parallel lines set-up. There may, for example, be two sets of lines where the dancers face in directly towards each other. In larger groups these will become several sets of in-facing parallel lines. In these "contra" line dances, the dancers will dance with the others in the facing lines. The dancers often weave in and out, exchanging places, or dance up to each other, and make momentary contact, such as a hand clap, or a swing, or take hold in Promenade position for a few counts, and then move on. This has it roots in Square or Round Dancing.

These contact maneuvers are more likely in the variation where line dancing takes place in two concentric rings which are facing each other, such as a Barn Dance or Indian Outlaw.


Line dancing has had a cowboy image, and it was danced predominantly to country-western music. This has been changing since the late 1990s, as more young people became involved. Today, country music may make up the minority of a DJ's play list, with the balance spread through a variety of many different musical styles both new and old. Genres including Celtic, Swing, Pop, Rock, Big Band, Folk, and almost anything else that has a regular beat.


Line dance is sometimes thought of as originating in the Wild West. In fact, it has a much more diverse background. Many folk dances are danced in unison in lines, usually single lines, and often with a connection between dancers. Such unison movements done by separate individuals in line might be traced back to old styles of group exercise. There have been line dances during the heyday of many modern popular music styles, including swing, rock and roll, and disco.

Line dancing's current popularity grew out of the disco period, when the country-western dance and music communities continued to explore and develop this form of dancing.

Billy Ray Cyrus' 1992 hit Achy Breaky Heart, helped catapult western line dancing back into the musical mainstream's public consciousness, and in 1998, the band Steps created further interest with the techno dance song "5,6,7,8". Line dancing is a popular recreation activity and 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, shuffle, and western promenade dances, as well as western-style variants of the waltz, polka and swing.

Two popular dances that technically classify as line dances are the Nutbush (performed to Nutbush City Limits by Tina Turner) and the Macarena.

Line dancing in the late 90's, and so far through the 2000's, has changed in some line dance clubs with the main bulk of the dancing done to pop music. This has brought with it a renewed interest in the dance form for people of all ages.

Line dancing is now seen not just as a form of dance but also as good exercise and as a good social scene.



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 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), a four-count movement to the side.


A tag (or bridge) is an extra set of steps not part of the main dance that are inserted into one or more sequences to ensure the dance fits with the music.


A Basic is one repetition of the main dance from the first count to the last not including any Tags or Bridges.


Each dance can be described to consist of a number of walls. A wall is the direction in which the dancers face at any given time, which would be the front, the back or one of the sides.

  • A one-wall dance would mean that at the end of the routine, the dancers would be facing in the same direction as they had started and so each sequence would repeat exactly the same.
  • A two-wall dance would mean the start of each routine alternates between two walls (almost always the front and back walls)
  • A four wall line dance is one in which at the end the whole routine of dance moves, the dancers turn 90 degrees, so that they would face all four walls in turn during four repetitions of the routine.

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.