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Country western dance workshop

Let’s Dance! is sponsoring a new beginning and intermediate Country Western workshop on Sunday, Jan. 10.

In Step Dance Associates, with Deb Aspen, a certified World Professional Dance Teacher’s Association instructor, is offering this workshop and three additional practice sessions. Cost is $20 per person. Registration is at 2:45 p.m. on Sunday Jan. 10, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

The three-hour class starts at 3 p.m. Refreshments will be served during a half-hour break, the refreshments provided by In Step Dance Associates.

A partner is not necessary to attend. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that have smooth or suede soles (shoes that do not leave black marks or mud). Rubber soles or lugged soles are inappropriate and very difficult to dance in. Subsequent two-hour practice sessions and times will be announced at the workshop.

Direct further questions to Deb at 731-3338.

So what is the history of Country Western Swing?

You be the judge.

In the 1930s, when “swing” was “the thing,” young people from coast to coast were dancing the “swing” to the music of the big bands. One of the many fascinated listeners was Bob Wills, from the state of Texas. Bob became inspired and formed his own western big band known as the Texas Playboys. Being that Bob was the catalyst in creating a genre of music known as “Western Swing,” he is recognized as the “King of Western Swing.”

In Texas and Oklahoma in the 1940s, the Western Swing gained enormous popularity with the help of Bob Wills. It was a Saturday night type of music that combined the culture of the Southwest with a blend of big band, blues, dixieland and jazz, among others. Musically, it added the drums and Hawaiian steel guitar, giving it a sound of its own.

There are several theories of how the Country Western Swing dance was created. One of the theories is that today’s modern country swing dance derived directly from the music Wills played and the way people danced to it. Another theory is that around 1938, Benny Goodman’s new jazz style made it easy to do the Lindy Hop. This gave birth to the Jitterbug; a fast moving combination of fancy footwork and elaborate spins, twirls and turns which highly influenced the county western dance we know today. Another theory is that Western Swing began in country dance halls of Texas and Oklahoma. Its infectious combination of country, cowboy, polka and folk music was blended with swing variation played by the so-called “hot string bands.” This later came to be known as Western Swing or Country Swing.

Today, Country Western Swing is one of the dance styles recognized and performed in competitive arenas all around the world.

Will we ever know exactly how Country Western Swing got started? I am not sure. What is important to know is that dancing Country Western Swing is just plain fun!

So, grab your cowboy and cowgirl boots, come on down to the clubhouse on Jan. 10, and learn some great dance steps.