A couple of decades or so ago I taught a series of monthly country western workshops with a close friend. I usually teach alone because a teaching partner automatically cuts the take in half, but I loved teaching with Jose so I mostly did it for fun. There was an expensive Japanese restaurant in the neighborhood where we had our workshops. We loved the food there, so after we finished our class, we’d go there and blow our earnings on dinner and catch up on our lives over the previous month. Then Jose’s day job took him out of state and our teaching team was history.
Dance partnerships never die!
Our friendship, however, remained intact, as did mine with his spouse Jim, who shares my love of gardening and old musicals. Last weekend I finally visited them in Atlanta, combining my visit with the renowned Peach State Country Western Dance Festival.
During Jose’s time in the Bay Area, Country was very popular. There were C/W dance bars everywhere. I taught a lot of country and went dancing frequently. Now the country scene has all but disappeared here, although it appears to be thriving in Atlanta. (I noticed differences, though. At least in the competition scene, the ballroom influence is so strong I could barely tell the difference. In the early days of Country, the dancers prided themselves on NOT being ballroom.) It begs the question: why do some dances disappear and others stay for good? Why are some a flash in the pan, like the Lambada, only to be gone a year later, while others are around for years and still thrive in some areas but are gone from others? And others disappear for a while and then come back with a resurgence a few decades later, like Lindy Hop. Lindy is popular in the Bay Area, but fragile. It takes work on the part of the dancers who love it to make sure the scene thrives.
Salsa in the South
I managed to get a little Salsa dancing in as well, to my delight. Jose is from Cuba and still my favorite Salsa partner. Salsa is a dance that seems to be popular everywhere and here to stay. It’s hard to imagine a stronger dance scene than Salsa, yet it’s a relatively new dance. By that I mean that I was a young woman when Salsa was a new dance.
I never expected Country to leave the Bay Area, but even the gay community is not supporting Country dancing as much any more. We may soon see the end of it all together. Jose suggested the theory that it may be the music. There is little distinction between Country and Pop today, so there is not as much reason to do a different dance. That may be, but doesn’t explain why it’s still popular in the South. It’s an interesting question. Why do you think some dances come and go while others seem to be here to stay? I’d love to hear your ideas!
by LaurieAnn Lepoff
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