Linedancing is a choreographed style of dancing. That
and mistakes aside, when you step out a linedance, you are following a
sequence of steps that have been conceived by the choreographer or
Rather than write out a dance sheet or learn a dance step by step,
and linedancers have come up with names for short sequences of steps -
thus instead of saying "step to the side, cross behind, step to the
step together", one merely says "vine". While this does make things a
easier, quicker and simplier for instructors, choreographers and
alike, it does have the unfortunate result that linedancing is full of
jargon. And like any activity that is full of jargon, unless you know
jargon, ie: the names for at least the basic step sequences, you will,
without doubt, be totally clueless when you first try to learn a dance.
When you start off at a beginner class it is the task of
not only to teach you dances and to boost your confidence, but just as
importantly, to also teach you at least the basic step sequences. Of
teaching these step sequences is usually done as part of teaching a
- the instructor will teach a series of steps and then inform the class
the name for that sequence. As the class improves, the teacher will
just use the step description. Very rarely an instructor will teach a
step sequence by itself - back when I first started I remember my then
instructor getting the whole class in a circle and then practicing
around and around and around, until we'd gotten it right. Remembering
named step sequences is actually more important than trying to learn a
particular dance - while dances come into popularity and then vanish
oblivion, the step sequences are eternal - at least as eternal as
long may that be! Progressing from novice to beginner to intermediate
finally to advanced is really a matter of learning more and
complex step sequences and putting them together.
What follows is a short list of basic step sequence
terms, along with
a step-by-step description of the sequence. I am only including
level steps here - refer to Terms
for the more complex step sequences.
Some step sequences are syncopated, others are not. A
step sequence is one where each step in the sequence is done on
beats of the music. Syncopation is where you do two steps in the one
Syncopation is usually not part of beginner level dancing, however
are a few syncopated step sequences which can be found in beginner
dances. In the table below I have used the symbol "&" to denote
step. The simplist of the syncopated step sequences is the shuffle
is three steps in two beats.
In the following "nominated" foot is whichever foot the
starts with - thus the nominated foot with a "right coaster step" is
||Step onto the ball of one foot (on &
count), step and/or change
weight onto the other foot. [Often accompanied by a previous step, eg:
||Bump hips to the side. [Bumps (or hip bumps) may
be done to the beat
or they may be syncopated]
||Three steps in place, done to two beats of the
music. [similiar to
a shuffle, however it is done on the spot]
||Step forward, kick the other foot forward, step
back (with the foot
you kicked), touch the original foot back. [Also known as a Montana
||Step together (ie: "Close right" means step right
foot beside the left)
||Step the designated foot back, step the other
foot beside the first
(on &), step the designated foot forward. [A coaster may be
in which case it is called a "forward coaster". Unless specified, a
is always "back"]
||45 degrees out from the centre of the Line of
||Toe-fan: with feet together,
turn toes of nominated foot out
90 degrees (pivoting on the heel) & return.
Heel-fan: same thing but the heel swings
out, pivoting on the
ball of the foot.
||With weight on both toes & feet together,
turn both heels out to
opposite sides, then back again. [Also known as a Buttermilk]
||Step heel of foot forward, drop toes to the
floor. [Also known as a
strut or a heel-toe strut]
||Hitch the knee up with weight on opposite foot.
||Hold your position for the specified counts of
music before taking
another step. [This is actually one of the hardest "steps" since you
to remember to do nothing!]
||Kick lead foot forward, step ball of lead foot
back to place, step
other foot in place. [Notorious for confusing beginners]
|L45 & R45
||Tap the heel of the designated foot out at a 45
degree angle, then
step beside other foot. [R45 & L45 are also used to describe
in a diagonal direction, so be carefulo of the context]
||The designated foot crossed closely in front or
behind the other foot.
[Often done as part of a step sequence, eg: a lock-shuffle, a lock-vine
or a "step, lock"]
||Unless specified a Monterey turn is always a 1/2
turn. It may be 1/4,
3/4 or full. The following is for a right-Monterey turn - reverse
for a left. Touch toes of right foot to the right side, keeping weight
on the left foot (count 1). Turn 1/2 turn right and step right foot
to left taking the weight onto right foot (count 2). Touch left toes to
left side (count 3). Step left foot beside right with weight on the
foot (count 4). [This is not really a beginner step, however quite a
"beginner" dances have Monterey Turns]
||Crossing one foot over the other
||Unless specified a pivot turn is always a 1/2
turn. Step the nominated
foot forward foot then turn 180° in the opposite direction of the
foot and return weight to original foot. [There are many exceptions to
this definition, however you *wont* encounter them in a beginners dance]
||Change weight from one foot to the other without
This is done with the knees slightly bent.
||This is one of the most mis-used steps in the
Technically, you rock onto the designated foot (either forward,
to the side or crossing) and then step onto the other foot,
weight. Your position changes only on the "step" part. In practice,
choreographers, instructors and dancers actually do a "step/rock, rock"
- stepping forward, back etc with the designated foot using a
motion and then rocking back onto the other foot (this foot doesn't
Because of this confusion, the most correct description of what's
done would be "Rock/step, replace", however it's usually (and
known as a "rock step". [Also known as "Rock Recover"]
||Slide/hop the weighted foot forward, backward or
sideways whilst the
other foot is hitched.
||Move the specified foot by gently sliding the
ball of the foot across
||Three steps in any direction done to two beats of
the music. Step the
designated foot in the designated direction, step the other foot beside
the first (on the & count) and then step the first foot in the
direction again. Eg: a "shuffle forward" would be - step one foot
step the other foot beside the first, step the first foot forward
[Also known as a Chasse when done to the side]
||1 or 2
||With the weight on one foot, drag or slide the
other foot up to the
weighted foot. Usually done to either 1 or 2 beats.
||Step toe forward, drop heel to the floor. [Also
known as a strut or
a toe-heel strut]
||Four steps done in any one direction. Eg: step
nominated foot to the
side, cross the other foot behind, step nominated foot to the side,
other foot together. Note that this is the basic vine - in many cases
any level) a vine may have the 4th step replaced with a touch, scuff or
hitch. Vines also often incorporate full or partial turns. [Also known
as a "frieze"]
||Step the nominated foot forward or back, step the
other foot together,
step the nominated foot in place.
There are, of course, *many* more terms used in
linedancing. The above
is meant to be a list of those terms likely to appear in beginner level
Line dances are usually phrased as either an 8-beat
dance or a 6-beat
dance, the latter being known as waltzes. You should not confuse a
"waltz" with a ballroom waltz - whilst some linedance waltzes are very
similiar to ballroom waltzes (especially when done as a partnered
other's are anything but. One of the fastest dances I've ever learnt
amazingly enuf, a waltz - simply because it was a 6-beat dance.
speaking, it is the song that is phrased in either 6 or 8 beat and this
phrasing is imposed on the dance, but since this is written for line
not musicians, I'll not worry about the distinction.
Whether a linedance is a 6-beat or an 8-beat phrased
dance, it can be
broken up into blocks or 6 or 8 counts - something that is immediately
obvious when you look at a dance sheet (there are exceptions, but
the choreographer playing games). A beginner dance is usually 32 counts
long (for an 8-beat phrased dance) or 4 lots of 8 counts. Most waltzes
are 48 counts, beginner or not.
If you are a beginner, the following is a list of
suggestions that may
make learning to linedance easier, less frustrating and more enjoyful.
Many of the points I have scoured from various sources, others are the
result of my own learning experience.
patient! Rome wasn't built in a day - don't
expect to be dancing with the best of 'em after just one lesson. For
folks it takes about three weeks before they are confident with their
dance. If it takes longer, don't worry - how quickly it takes you to
it up initially has little bearing on how good you'll be a year on.
practice, practice! Practice may
not make perfect, but it will increase your confidence and help you
a dance. Don't just practice the dance in class - run thru' it at home,
at work, at school .. anywhere and anytime you have the chance (and the
room). Also practice the basic steps .. vines, shuffles etc. Grab a
of the dance sheet - either off the net or from the instructor to help
you practice away from class.
is important. Keep your body straight
and your centre of weight over the foot your weight is on.
be afraid to ask for help. Remember,
YOU are paying the instructor to teach YOU how to linedance. If you are
having trouble with a particular step or can't seem to pick up a dance
and need more help, ask the instructor. After all, that's what you are
paying them for. And don't hope that someone else will ask that "stupid
question" you really need answered - if everyone is hoping someone else
will yell for help, no one will ask and the instructor will prolly
no one is having trouble.
be discouraged if you seem to be the
worst dancer in the class - everyone started off as a novice. Today's
left-foot stumbler may be tomorrow's champion.
you don't need a partner.
footwear is very important. No, I don't
mean y'all have to all wear cowboy boots, rather you need to wear shoes
or boots that are comfortable and provide just the right amount of
Leather soled footwear is best, but not compulsory - especially for
For my first year or so I wore a pair of sneakers who'se tread had been
worn flat. If there is too much traction (ie: grip), then your ankles
be quite sore afterwards (this is also the case if the floor is in a
way). If there is not enuf traction, then you'll be slip-sliding all
the floor and, for a beginner, that'll likely mean an occasional fall.
If the floor is too slippery for your footwear, there are various types
of tape which you can put on the soles - ask around, somone will be
to tell you what's available locally. I use "fabric tape" which I get
the local hardware store. If the floor has too much grip (eg: a poor
job or lots of spilt drinks), talcum powder works wonders - however be
sure it's the floor and not your footwear and be warned that some clubs
don't permit this (it's also a no-no at a social). Other than that,
sense should dictate your choice of footwear. Remember, you are dancing
on a wooden floor so anything that could damage the floor is a no-no.
heels are also a big no-no - apart from the damage to the floor,
a killer on your feet while dancing. Oh, and the rest of your outfit is
entirely up to you.
you go to your first class make sure
it's a beginner class and introduce yourself to the instrutor
making a point of telling them you are a novice. When the class starts,
the best place is up the front, in the middle. Yes, you can hide up the
back, but that makes it harder to see the instructor and more
the instructor's feet.
you bump into someone, briefly apologise
and keep on dancing. Bumps, and worse, are a fact of life on the dance
floor. No matter how good you may be, you'll still occasionally bump
people or fall over. I've seen people trip over whilst competing - far
more embarrassing than doing the same in class!