What do I need to know to dance at a honky tonk?

Discussion in 'Country and Western' started by Chris Hennes, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. Chris Hennes

    Chris Hennes New Member

    I'm going to be in Austin for a few days coming up here, and my wife suggested we go to one of the honky tonks there. I'm only familiar with what I guess is competition-style country dancing, and on several occasions in classes have danced with partners who, when asked if they had ever done (say) two step before would respond "well, not like this... only honky tonk." What the heck that meant has never mattered before, but now I have to ask. What, exactly, are they dancing at these honky tonks, if it's not recognizable as two step etc.?
  2. Wolfgang

    Wolfgang Member

    I'm assuming you mean 'Country bar', right?
    Well, you know, it's a bar.
    Commenting strictly on the dance aspect, you can expect a VAST variety of skill levels, most of them on the low side.
    There might be the odd local hotshot who knows 2-Step or Swing or something really well (including flips and handstands), but the majority are there for the meat market/drinking aspect.
    No problem if you're a good leader.
    If you will be dancing exclusively with the wife, just keep in mind that the dance floor tends to turn into a hockey rink around 10 - 10.30 or so, complete with body checks, etc.
  3. Chris Hennes

    Chris Hennes New Member

    Sort of: my wife wants to go to The Broken Spoke, which bills itself as "Texas' most definitive dance hall." Live music and chicken fried steak; that kind of place. Presumably there will also be beer involved.
  4. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    Bet that's the texas two step. I googled honk tonk two step there are videos.Should be some rock n roll swing, and line dances and possible waltz, though most couples probably will be "pocket dancing" to anything slow" LOL
  5. Chris Hennes

    Chris Hennes New Member

    Wow, I tried googling "Honky tonk two step" and it really doesn't look like what I know as the "two step"—is it just me or are they not travelling in those videos? I thought that was a defining characteristic of two step.
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    When you look at most of the videos on YouTube the are labeled "Texas Two Step", or simple two step, you most likely are seeing the "ballroom" or competition style two step. That's pretty much a style that was standardized after "Urban Cowboy." (Travolta can be seen doing it in the film. But he's using a red neck or cowboy hold, not the ballroom one, along with sometimes really relaxed footwork and posture.)

    People in Houston call(ed) the style Western Swing, cause you know, Bob Wills and his music were popular, and heck why not (that swing dance from California is called Western Swing but we call it California style swing, so it's not like the name is already taken or anything.

    Having looked at a bunch of books published early in the 80s, and earlier, I can say that two step used to be mostly qq s qq s , but there were lots of variations on that.

    Here's an amusing take on "Double Two Step." Although mostly it starts on the left foot, Fort Worth Shuffle starts on the right foot.

    This is what I came up with for wikipedia.

    Country dancing is informal, relaxed, simple, casual, without affection, which does not mean so casual as to be sloppy.[6] Country dancing emphasizes smoothness on the dance floor, and keeping time with the music with none of the flourishes that could be interpreted as exhibitionism, narcissism, and lack of manliness or womanliness. Style is much more important than how many exoctic acrobatics he or she can perform. Because of cowboy boots, country western dance is more likely to feature a flat-footed glide with some heel and toe touches rather than a lot of "toe type" dancing.[7] In addition to a quiet upper body, there is very little hip movement. Pumping of the hands, bouncing, and waddling are not encouraged.[8]
    Cowboy, or "country" waltz consists of gliding steps that are consistent with wearing cowboy boots, rather than "on the balls of the feet" quick steps of the classic version. Neither foot is lifted completely from the ground. Steps should be a light footed glide rather than a flat footed shuffle.[9]
    There are many versions of each dance. They may go by different names depending on the area of the U.S., and even in the particular dance hall. There may be no one "correct" way to a particular dance.[10]

    Now, if there are "cowboy swing" people on the floor.... It's a whole different ballgame. I just stay away from them.

    In spite of all the organized competitions and standardized instruction, country western dance is still pretty free. Most social dancers don't give a rip about competing so they don't have to learn so much how to do it the "right" way.

    The other dance that is like that is Argentine Tango, my other "favorite" dance.

    So, do like I did when I went to Far West Rodeo in San Antonio, or the milongas in Buenos Aires for that matter. Get there early, maybe take a lesson, have a drink, or two, and relax and get a feel for what people are doing.
    Wait to see what people are doing on the floor before going out there.
    Don't do any pointy stuff or step on your toes, and use a relaxed posture.

    I'm pretty sure you won't see any line dancing if it claims to be a "real" Texas honky tonk, but let us know. (real cowboys don't line dance)

    Well, I think this was more than you asked for, but, I guess I have strong feelings about this!
  7. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    Chris, if I may ask how are they teaching the "not like this"?

    I myself know of two country and western variations. One is similar to Foxtrot, but rather than doing one side together on the QQ to your left, this is followed up with the same move to the right, also QQ. Known here anyway as Rhythm 2 Step. The other is where you just step forward like normal walking steps, QQ, SS. This is known as the Progressive 2 Step and have understood this to be the Texas 2 Step. There is also a Triple 2 Step, but I'm not familiar with that one. Perhaps Honky Tonk refers to something unlike what I describe here.

    Don't do much dancing in clubs, but one that serves up chicken fried steak would appeal to me.
  8. Chris Hennes

    Chris Hennes New Member

    The two-step as it's taught here is the progressive QQSS version. Triple-two is also taught, as a separate dance. The first dance you describe sounds to me like the Country variation on the Nightclub Two-Step (long slow step left, quick together, quick across right, long slow step right, quick together, quick across left). A little different from what I think is the original NC2S, the "ballroom" or "California" version, right? I haven't been country dancing for very long, so it's possible that my terminology is all messed up, of course, but that's what I was seeing and being taught at last weekend's UCWDC comp.
  9. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    No, what I describe is forward, forward, beginning with your left then right, to the side with left, bring right together with left, then the opposite, bring right to side, bring left together with right. This may not be a common variation outside of this area.

    What is Triple Two?
  10. Chris Hennes

    Chris Hennes New Member

    It's like a progressive version of triple swing: all steps go forward, but that triple-step triple-step step step rhythm.
  11. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    I'll have to give it a try; actually haven't done a lot of C&W dance as of late.

    Norman huh, I served with the Army down the road at Ft. Sill.
  12. nucat78

    nucat78 Active Member

    Traveling walk, walk, triple step, triple step.

    But then I'm in Chicago and won't be in Texas for the first time until August... :p
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Read about Nite Club Two Step here, an interview with Buddy Schwimmer who is credited with starting the dance. http://www.lovemusiclovedance.com/niteclub.htm

    Spitfire, you and other call that thing (not the triples) Arizona Two Step, right?

    Most likely that's a surviving "two step" from before everything became standardized and taught as "Texas Two Step" after Urban Cowboy.
  14. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    I know it as Rhythm 2 Step, but think A2S may refer to the same thing. I should ask next time I'm out dancing; as I say I have not done a lot of CW in recent years.
  15. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I believe the move to the CW version of NC2Step came from Michael Kiehm in San Diego who figured out the swing world version puts emphasis on the wrong beat as the tempo slows down.
  16. kayak

    kayak Active Member

    I have danced at The Broken Spoke and several places around Oklahoma City/Norman. Leading the standard QQSS two step worked fine both places. I don't think you need to learn anything unique.
  17. Chris Hennes

    Chris Hennes New Member

    It wound up being irrelevant: at the Broken Spoke there were several couples in the middle of the very tiny dance floor doing a very vigorous east coast swing: the main goal then was to avoid being body-slammed, since they made no effort to avoid doing the body-slamming. I left after two dances, if I wanted a mosh pit I'd find a better band :).
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member


    He he! BTDT.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Much ado about nothing, then?
    Looked like people were actually doing some subdued form of 2 step in the videos I looked at.

    If you think people doing east coast are bad, I have to ask if you've ever been around when people were doing "cowboy swing?"
    It's like flying elbows of death.
  20. Chris Hennes

    Chris Hennes New Member

    lol, I don't normally have a problem with east coast, but the combination of a small, crowded floor and I'm guessing more than a few beers led to what I personally would call inconsiderate dancing. It certainly would have gotten them kicked out at anyplace else I'd ever danced.

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