It’s a good idea, and more fun, to wear cowboy boots, though.
MY IDEA OF country attire is a jean jacket.
It didn’t occur to me that it might be prudent to hunt down some cowboy boots for line dancing at Little Red Hen in Green Lake. Not that boots are de rigeur there — plenty of people wore sneakers — but cowboy boots are made for stomping. And because stomping was one of my favorite elements of line dancing, I imagine stomping in boots is far more satisfying than in any other footwear.
Little Red Hen hosts a free line-dancing class, a social dance that doesn’t require a partner, on Monday nights. Before class, I watched a couple of women in dresses and cowboy boots, and a guy in cowboy boots, dance with aplomb. They made it look easy. I soon learned line dancing requires a heroic level of concentration, if you’re me.
I was happy when teacher Mary Ann Anderson gathered everyone for class, and plenty of other folks, mostly without cowboy boots, came to the floor. We started off with a simple dance. Set to Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road,” it required just four kicks, a couple of hooks of your foot over your shin, and my first introduction to stomps. I wished I had cowboy boots for their conveniently loud and stomp-y qualities. Remembering the steps for this first dance was easy, and Anderson pointed out that you could hop around to make the kicks and stomps more aerobic.
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She ramped up the complexity for our second dance, Wagon Wheel Rock, to Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel.” This sequence included rock steps forward and back, added half and quarter turns, and included grapevines and full circles. I could follow Anderson for the first quarter turn around the floor, but as soon as we faced a new direction, my feet got confused. I had to focus to keep up.
We moved on to “Kick the Dust Up” by Luke Bryan, where we learned the hitch (lifting one knee), a sailor step, a heel swizzle and a hip push, among other moves. I had been dancing long enough that I was quite warm, and tired. I kept forgetting to hitch at the right time, stomp to the beat and strike my heels before the heel swizzle. My brain felt swizzled.
For the last round, Anderson showed us the tush push, part of a dance to Rednex’s “Riding Alone.” “You gotta learn how to push your tush in country,” she said, and rocked one hip forward and one hip back. She demonstrated how to make it more of a hip swivel than a push and moved us through more steps.
Just when I felt overwhelmed from remembering the steps, she turned rows to face each other, staggering us with other dancers. Regulars told me this was Anderson’s contra-dance-style line dancing.
We had to pass between other dancers, slap hands with each other and slide in a box formation around two different people. Dancing with others took the stakes up in a good way. I didn’t want to confuse my partners by accidentally going the wrong way, so I tried to stay on top of the steps. The energy ramped up for everyone, as we laughed, slapped hands and slid our feet.
The hourlong class flew by. While line dancing isn’t hard, it can be vigorous, and it’s definitely fun. Just get out there, and follow along. I’m not a country music fan, but you can call me a line-dancing convert.