Tuesday, August 6, 2013

THE TEXAS TWO-STEP AND DANCE HALLS




We used to go dancing at the local country western dance hall quite frequently, but since they tore down the hall to make way for a Super Walmart, we haven’t been in a while. Regardless, dancing was something that we both did well and enjoyed, so - I thought I'd comment on the art of Texas two-stepping.

Okay, first of all for those of you that don't dance country, with the two-step, you step twice slow, then twice fast, so - 1, 2 slow, 1, 2, fast. A really good two-stepper doesn't lift his feet, but slides. So perhaps, slide, slide slow, slide, slide fast. That's much better than the bunny hopper. Oh yeah, the hopper is hard to follow. Hop, hop, slow, hop hop fast. I had to dance with a hopper once and yep, only once. My husband, on the other hand, is a great slider.

Now then, there's the hitcher. This is a very uncomfortable move for me because I'm a slider, but heck, I've seen some great hitchers. So what's a hitcher? So glad you asked. A hitcher moves like this: 1, 2, slow, hitch. He hitches his hip up and holds his toe to the ground for the count of the fast 1, 2. It's kind fun to watch them hitch that hip.

I found this entry from a long ago post made about 6 years ago and thought I’d share. Evidently we had a grand ole time;

“Last night we saw it all; hitchers, sliders, two-steppers (thems that don't slide) and hoppers. We also saw an unusual combination that made us both smile a lot. An older couple, older meaning about 20 years older than us, danced almost every dance. They were having a grand time, but he was dancing and trying to lead with a two-step, while she waltzed most of the night and dang if they didn't manage to make it all the way around the floor without tripping. I love to see older folks having fun and dancing. I picture myself in their shoes when I'm their age.”

No one is quite sure when the two-step came into being but it is speculated that he derived from a variety of dances. The most likely dances being the Foxtrot and the One Step. In the 1800s, couples would dance the “valse a deux temps”, which was a two-beat waltz. Some speculate that the two step comes from this two-beat waltz. Whatever the situation, in 1847, writer Henri Cellarius declared that this particular dance be called the two step. Since then, many variations of this dance have come into play.


File:Waylon Jennings RCA cropped.jpg
Waylon Jennings
John Philip Sousa wrote the “Washington Post March” in 1891 and couples discovered this to be a great song to dance the two step to thus making the dance and the song grow in popularity. The advent of record albums and radio broadcastings of Country Western music made it easier for young couples to enjoy dancing. Dance Halls began to pop up in the late 1800s and gave young couples a fun “courting” activity. The term “honky tonk” first appeared in print in 1894 in the Daily Ardmoreite (Ardmore, Oklahoma) and referred to a bar that had a dance floor and a stage for musicians. “Taxi-dance” halls were places where men could pay a small fee to dance with a hostess.

One of the most famous dancehalls in Texas got its start in the 1880s and was rebuilt in the 1920s. By 1967, Luckenbach, Texas was almost a ghost town until it was put on the market and sold to John Russell “Hondo” Crouch and partners, Kathy Morgan and Guich Koock.   John turned the small town into the place where “everybody is somebody.” In 1977, after Hondo had died, Waylon Jennings gave us a song that put Luckenbach on the map; “Luckenbach, Texas (Backto the Basics of Love)”. Even now my toes are tapping to the beat even if it is a waltz beat and not a two step. Maybe I can talk hubby into some dancing this weekend.

7 comments:

  1. My toes are a'tappin', too, Ciara. We, too, spent years going to honky tonks--The Broken Spoke out at Canyon Lake and The Crystal Chandelier in New Braunfels, where a young George Strait appeared with his first big hit-"Wrap Around My Little Finger"--sorry, can't recall the exact title.
    My husband and I went over there with good friends, with my friend and I were so excited we almost..well, you know.
    The place was packed, and I mean wall-to-wall, shoulder to shoulder. No one could sit down. Our husbands, God love them, got bottles of beer and put their backs to the back wall and stayed there.

    My friend and I held hands and slowly, slowly worked our way to the front row--remember, everyone is standing--right square in the middle in front of...sighhhhhh...George Strait.
    What a night.

    Once in my younger days of teaching, four teachers were sent to a private school convention in Dallas. While there, we just had to go to "No Whar But Texas" that night--three women and one man, a bonafide nerd, who went along because we literally dragged him.
    We taught at a Baptist school, but he was the only Baptist. Don't tell anyone, but he drank beer, and we made him dance, and for years, he'd say, that was the most fun I've even had.

    Enough of me..I adored your blog, as you can tell. Thanks for all the information, especially the moves!

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  2. Ah, Ciara, what memories this brought back! I haven't been dancing in years, but despite my Baptist roots, much of my misspent youth was spent square dancing, two-stepping, or doing the cotton-eyed Joe or some line dance. What fun! **sigh**

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  3. Ciara, what a fun post! I love watching folks dance the two-step. Never knew there are so many variations of it. Thanks for enlightening me. Lyn

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  4. Thanks all. My mother collected square dance music (I still have all her LPs) and taught it to the girl scouts in the area. Hubby and I arranged our first date at the local dance hall here. We're really bummed that they tore it down.

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  5. Ciara, I remember years ago trying to explain to someone from New England what a honky tonk was. There are not many nice dance halls left. Progress is not always a good think, is it?

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  6. I love to dance, Texas Two-Step or whatever but hubby can't dance. Even after weeks of lessons.

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  7. I think there are a few good dance halls left. In fact, they are building a brand new one here but then we have a large number of Aggies who love dancing and would fill the Hall full every time we went. We always went early so we could dance as the young folks wouldn't begin showing up until after 9:30PM. When they started playing "booty" music around 10:30 that was our cue to leave.

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