Country line dancing emerged in the 1970s and has since become such a staple at dance bars that many might assume it existed since the days of the Old West. The appeal is understandable: the choreography is mostly minimal and contact non-existent. Anyone with a little bit of rhythm can line dance.
“I love line dancing because it’s by yourself and with others at the same time,” says line dancing enthusiast Michelle Barrett. Now into her mid-30s, she says “I’ve been line dancing since I was fifteen, since we all were dancing to ‘Achy Breaky Heart.’”
The most popular country line dancing destination in the Salt Lake Valley is The Westerner Club on Redwood Road. Opened in 1962, the establishment served as Salt Lake City’s original country dancehall, bar and grill. Over five decades later, the club remains as popular as ever.
The club boasts the “largest dance floor in Utah” and offers free dance lessons to prospective learners (or doubters) on Thursdays and Fridays.
Though the classics still rate, popular line dancing songs these days are sung by country superstars Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Chris Young, and Miranda Lambert. “I love dancing to old and new songs,” says young dancer Todd Jensen. “There really aren’t that many steps to know, and it’s usually easy to follow another’s lead if you get lost. That’s what’s fun about it. Not all eyes are on you.”
Popular dances include the Country Slide, Canadian Stomp, Puttin’ on the Ritz, and Two Step Line Dance.
For the folks who are a little shy when it comes to dancing, every Wednesday at the Westerner is “Stein Wednesday” which celebrates the 24 different beers the club has on tap. The club is also home to its famous mechanical bull, and hosts the popular Bikini Bull Riding competition every Friday night.
Many well-known artists also perform at the dancehall on a regular basis. Chris Cagle will perform on August 8, and Colt Ford, featuring Demun Jones, performs in October.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about line dancing is that you have to be really into the country music scene in order to get into it,” says Jensen. “That’s not true at all. I’m not that heavy into the scene, but I still love line dancing because of the energy it brings.”
Barrett agrees. “Country line dancing is a strange phenomenon because it brings people together, even if they don’t ever directly dance with one another.”
For more information visitwww.westernerslc.com.