Sunday, November 22, 2009


Last night my wife and I tried something rather new for the both of us. When she was out of town a few weeks ago for a social event with her work, she met someone who teaches English Country dancing. By "English," I mean "England," and by "Country," I mean "Jane Austen-Style." Since my wife is an ardent fan of Jane Austen, and dancing features prominently in several of her novels, we decided to go down to Oklahoma City for some lessons and dancing last night. It was a lot of fun, and an altogether entirely singular experience for the both of us. To wit: this ain't dancing like the kids at the clubs today.

For starters, most of the people (of the roughly 25 or so total) were not exactly in their youth. But they sure were having a good time, and were delighted to have some of the younger generation there last night, and the way these folks danced you would have thought they were all in their 20's as well. Some were dressed up in period clothing just for the fun of it, and one dude wore a kilt. We got there at 7:30 for some lessons in basic steps and maneuvers, and learned how to change, cross, circle, step, and a lot of other little moves that serve to make up an entire dance. Then around 8, as more people got there and the live band had finished tuning up, we started up the real dancing.

This type of dancing eschews traditional definitions of the word, though in some respects it is in fact far more traditional than the dancing we think of today since it has been around much longer. A typical dance involves two lines of people, one made of men and one of women, standing a few feet apart and facing each other. The individuals facing each other are partners, but partners change with each dance. At the front of the room is a "caller," who first tells the particular moves that make up the dance, and it's up to the partners and their neighbors to make it all happen.

The video above is not from last night--it's just something I found on YouTube that exemplifies the dancing we did. It might not look like much, but it was super fun. I'm not kidding, I had a blast with it and people were super friendly and helpful when we forgot what to do. I also had to be extremely focused the whole time, as things were happening to fast that if I lost my concentration for a few seconds things would break down.

We hope to go again soon, and maybe check out the Ballroom Dancing lessons offered here in town too. In any case, it was at least something different for the both of us, and we had a great time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This dance seems to have an element of square dancing in it. Perhaps square dancing was the American version of the English County dance.