This website is a library of Country Swing moves and resources for you to teach yourself country dancing anywhere, anytime. My mission is to provide the most comprehensive guide for Country Swing that you can find anywhere on the internet. Quality, quantity, and user-friendliness all in one place. This guide is a great supplement to live instruction too. If you can’t remember how to do a move you learned in class, you can find it here. And if you don’t see it here, let me know because I probably know it (seriously, I developed a super-skill for translating vague descriptions of moves into the thing you were trying to remember).
I have organized everything I have learned throughout the years into levels from basic to advanced to help you level up your dancing with confidence. Eventually I will also have video step-by-step tutorials demonstrating dance moves and fundamental elements of Country Swing (it’s a big work in progress).
Dancing is for everyone!
My website features videos and photos of me and my friends (who graciously agreed to help me out, and may or may not have been bribed with food). We all dance at different levels and across different levels. Only a few of us teach dance or have been taught professionally. For the most part what you see is what we learned on our own or with each other. That’s because on this website, I wanted to give you realistic expectations for what you can achieve with a little bit of effort. How far you go with dancing is up to you!
What kind of dance will I learn?
You will learn a blend of Rhythm Two Step and swing dance moves that have collectively come to be known as Country Swing. While it is difficult to pinpoint the time or reason that these dance styles merged, the result is a dance style that is flexible and easy for people with no dance experience to learn. Some people may think the footwork of this dance is non-existent, but in fact there is an anchored point in the footwork, when the dance partners are springing away from each other, that give some hints about its origins.
The origin of Country Swing… probably
In order to define Country Swing more completely, you first have to understand a bit about the origins of swing. Swing dancing began in the United States in the 1920s with Jazz music. Its earliest forms were the Charleston and Lindy Hop. Lindy Hop is considered the grandfather of all modern swing dances. Its fast-paced rhythm and awe-inspiring lift, aerial, and floor stunts captured the hearts of young audiences. This thrilling element was later injected into Country Swing along with the complex spins and turns of another swing style from the 1930s–the Jitterbug.
Over the years, many styles of swing emerged. Perhaps the most important of these to Country Swing was The Hustle, aka New York Hustle, developed in the 1970s in the South Bronx alongside the rise of disco music. The Hustle, is a three-count pattern that ends with a back step, often referred to as a rock step or anchor. All forms of swing dance feature some sort of rock step or anchoring step. Since a dance combination might require extending a dance pattern of three or four counts to longer sets, this step signals the end of a longer sequence, and thus maintains the orderly footwork needed for partner dance. A new move or move segment almost always begins after a rock step. Therefore, it provides a point for you to re-establish your footing if you make a mistake, and help you find beat 1 of the next pattern.
As disco music died out, country music began to rise in popularity. People returned to Country Western dancing, and these swing and disco dances served as the model for the modern styles of dancing. Thus, Country Swing emerged.
Where Rhythm Two Step comes into play
As for the insertion of Rhythm Two Step into Country Swing, it was likely an unintended consequence of mingling music and dance styles–a sign of the times and the direction in which performance art was headed. For a long time, dance and music had been fairly distinct. The instrumentation and rhythms of the band gave clear cues about what dance should take place. But when musicians began to look toward a broader sphere of musical influences, the rise of blended music styles practically demanded a change in dance styles as well. I imagine that people began to ask questions they never had to wonder about before. “Is this a hustle or a jive?” And half the dance floor chose the former while the other half chose the latter. Another contributing factor may have been the informal setting, with many people learning country dance for the first time in a bar. As long as the music is good, people will find a way to dance to it.
There are many dances that go by the name “Two Step,” which share a “quick-quick-slow-slow” footwork pattern. This pattern is also the same as the Foxtrot, which is where many people believe the two-step it originated. However, the jaunty feel of the Rhythm Two step speaks to its roots in the southwestern United States and Mexico, where it sprouted up between the Mexican Fandango and square dancing. Rhythm Two Step best fits traditional honky-tonk music with a moderately high BPM. It is usually done as a spot-dance meaning you do not travel around the perimeter of the dance floor. However, since it shares traits to the progressive two-step, it is possible to make it into a progressive dance if space on the dance floor is limited. This is something that the basic step of other swing styles cannot do.
In the style of Country Swing presented on this website, the Rhythm Two Step pattern serves as a sort of “home base.” It allows the dance partners to sync up their footwork throughout the dance. Many new dance leads struggle with finding the beat of the music, so they rely on this basic step as a foundation for learning key elements of timing, connection, and the role of lead and follow. However, it is possible to do a Country Swing without ever utilizing the Rhythm Two Step.
About the Author
My name is Stephanie. I am a music teacher, a dance instructor, and the author of this guide. I have been dancing Country Swing since 2013. I have been training in ballroom dancing as well as teaching country dance since 2018.
I live in the southwestern town of Tucson, AZ. My sister, Erin, was the first person to introduce me to country dancing one August night with a few sentences uttered over a phone call:
“What are you doing right now?” …
“Come out country dancing with me.” …
“No, you don’t need an hour to get ready. Just throw on some comfy shoes and get over here!”
That night I met some important people who would later become dear friends of mine. But more importantly, I discovered a hobby that would change my life in some significant ways. Here are some reasons I found to love dance:
- To refine your social skills. Physically interacting with others helps you understand social cues better.
- Partner dancing is a great way to break the ice with an attractive stranger.
- To develop better body coordination (you know what they say about someone who can dance well?).
- Quickly vet someone who you are interested in–it’s like speed dating without the awkwardness.
- Combat fears such as rejection, replace them with confidence and self-esteem.
- Meet new people, make new friends, maybe even meet that special someone and sweep them off their feet. Many of my friends and family members have met their significant others at a social dance.
- Dancing releases endorphins and other neurological responses that combat depression, dementia, and other mental conditions.
- Burn calories; get stronger, leaner, more toned and have fun doing it!
- Increased aerobic activity improves circulation and heart and lung health.
- De-stress from the day.
- Replacing bad habits with good habits is the most effective way to quit a negative habit.
Whatever the reason that brought you to this page, I hope that you find your experience with dance transformative too!
About my Vision for the Future
I want to take Country Swing country-wide, and then to the world! Country music is, so why not dancing also? Right now Country Swing is big in California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Texas, and parts of Canada, but if I can reach people across the nation and show them how easy it is to get started with dancing, they can discover reasons to love it like I did. I might not cure obesity or depression in America, I might not fix divorce rates or relationships, but getting people dancing is a start!