Country and Western > Ballroom vs. Country Waltz, Cha Cha, Swing

Discussion in 'Country and Western' started by suburbaknght, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    What are the differences between ballroom and country-western waltz, cha cha, and swing?
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Country dancing is informal. 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. In addition to a quiet upper body, there is very little hip movement. Pumping of the hands, bouncing, and waddling are not encouraged.

    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.

    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.

    The Country Western Waltz is mostly progressive, moving counter clock wise around the dance floor. Both the posture and frame are relaxed, with posture bordering on a slouch. The exaggerated hand and arm gestures of some ballroom styles are not part of this style. Couples may frequently dance in the promenade position, depending on local preferences. Within Country Western waltz there are the Spanish Waltz and the more modern (for the late 1930s- early 1950s) Pursuit Waltz. At one time it was considered ill treatment for a man to make the woman walk backwards in some locations.

    That's information I put together for wikipedia.

    For cha cha you have people starting on 1, whether they are doing Traveling or Cowboy Cha Cha, or what is supposed to pass as a ballroom style cha cha. The pattern partner dances are by far the most common anywhere I have been, and the man and the woman are not on opposite feet as in the other partner form.

    If you watch the competition dances, you'll see lots and lots of ballroomy stuff: women and men throwing their hands around, and pointing their toes, creating "lines."
    I see this with certain folks where I dance, too.
    Doesn't look like "country western" to me.

    In the early and mid 80s there were lots of different swing styles, based on books published at the time. On the West Coast today, I see mostly West Coast Swing and some "Cowboy Swing" which is pretty much standing in place and doing wraps and such, a little bit of East Coast, and the occassional Lindy hoppers.
    Here's a link to 2005 discussion about coundty rWCS vs "plain 'ol WCS.
    I certainly got something different from Skippy Blair than what I'd been doing since 1992.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2017
  3. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    Beginning country waltz dancers are usually taught a simplified silver level style dance where they don't close their feet and they don't emphasize rise and fall. Ballroom dancers are taught bronze level where they do close their feet and do have rise and fall.

    Without music it would be difficult to distinguish the difference between country waltz and Progressive (Texas) Two Step.

    As a bronze level waltz dancer, my experiences with country waltz dancers is often awkward.

    Note: I have incorporated several moves into my waltz dance that resemble silver level but they are mostly borrowed from the local country dancers.
    suburbaknght likes this.
  4. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    That's extremely helpful. Thank you!
  5. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    BR waltz and C&W waltz are styles of the same dance. They share the same history but parted not long ago. Cha and swing are different dances. They developed almost independently of each other, each one got a special set of moves, is (or better should be) danced to a special sort of music. There are also different styles within cha cha: latin, C&W, line, AR, cuban, and especially PR cha cha.
    So in the end, is the questian behind your questian, what the difference between style and dance actally is?
  6. kckc

    kckc Active Member

    You may be right about the ball-roomy stuff going on in CW. I dance ProAm ballroom but the studio I frequent has a good-sized country competition group also, at least some of whom, I've heard, switched from ballroom because of the expense (there is a whoooole 'nuther thread on that right now). I wonder if the ballroom styling you see may simply be a vestige of the switch from BR to CW for some.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2017
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    That doesn't surprise me inthe least. Most folks take the lessons offered at the venue where they dance, and that's it. I'm always delighted when I find someone who is "above average."

    One of the reasons the positions that aren't "ballroom closed" (varsousienne, promenade, skater, cape) are used so much, I think, is that those positions require much less skill to pull off, and have a fun dance. Anytime there's awkwardness in a waltz, I go to those side by side positions for most of the dance.

    I've recently found some interesting 1942 text that says two step was integrated into fox trot early. That means that the "old" two step qqs, which was the "country" standard until Urban Cowboy days, didn't come from fox trot, but came from the same source.
  8. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    and both partners can see the big guy with the beer in his hand up ahead!!!
  9. JCB

    JCB New Member

    I am considering buying some Dance Vision Tapes to learn west coast swing. I see that they have both country western WCS and WCS. The Country Western versions seem to be much longer in running time. Would I learn the same material and techniques from either set? I have read the post above and it seems that people observe more arm movement from leaders in CW and more focus on patterns. However there also seems to be a consistent feeling/statement that it is just marketing.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    There's an 8 year old discussion of this here

    I learned my WCS at Mr B's Lounge and the Drum here in the Portland area, plus a course from a local guy in the rec program here. A couple of years ago I went to West Coast Swing intensives with Skippy Blair, who teaches a more contained style than the one I had learned.
    I dance at a CW place here in Portland, and in Vegas, and Long Beach.

    There is one particular thing in Skippy's basics, and many things in the material I learned years ago here in Portland, that don't work with certain people, because they don't have the some of the skills that would make them work.

    I can tell you that if you would get one of Skippy's disks, you would be learned straight from the horse's mouth since she's been invovlved with the dance since the 50s.
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    PR style ??.. never ,in all my yrs with PRs ( dancing and teaching ) have I ever known them ,to claim a style, in Cha cha.. salsa, yep

    And, what do you mean by "cuban " .. "street " style ?. reason.. there are cubanos who dance on 1 ,and some , on 2. But thats a break choice, NOT a style per se. "Style".. is visual appearance first and sometimes, content .
    We should also add, there are technique differences in many cases .
  12. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi tt, think you know that I'm a zoologists, and thus specialzed in sorting animals. So it's not unlikely that our teminology may differ ;-)
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    As an educated guess, I think you probably mean "street " style, which is the common term for club style dance .

    And, good luck in sorting the "animals " in the salsa scene !:rolleyes:
    opendoor likes this.
  14. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    Mainly because you'll slosh the beer you have in the hand that's draped over your partner's shoulder.
  15. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    JoeB, guess you have some experience with the CW scene. I can tell you're excited about it!
  16. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    I get tired of seeing it done impressively badly. If you can't have enough respect for your partner to not be leaning on her, still holding a beer, etc. you might as well just sit down.

    It's so bad that the night of my first lesson I had two women compliment me on not being painful or tiring to dance with like the other guys. Something about holding my own arm up and leading rather than throwing.
    Sweetboots likes this.
  17. eaglemike

    eaglemike New Member

    There are good country dancers, and bad. When people identify "bar dancers" as being representative of country dancing, it can lead to misconceptions. They would be untrained socail dancers...... Would corner bar waltz or cha-cha be representative of ballroom? Certainly not.
    I used to compete there (UWDC), and in west coast swing events too. My pro had taken lessons from someone named Carrie Kloss - a few ballroom people might remember that name. I also had classes from Skippy Blair in the '90's - at that time her knowledge on CW dancing was somewhat dated, IMO.
    Good leading and following technique is important/appreciated in any style of dance....
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Take salsa lessons?
    Loki and stash like this.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Good place as any to throw out this quote from Hofesh Shechter who did choreography for the current production of Fiddler on the Roof (or at least I thought "country" when I read it.)

    "In the most complimentary was, they look like simple people," says Shechter of his cast.

    Here's a link to the article in Dance magazine.
  20. chuck4788

    chuck4788 Member

    I think this thread needs a bump. I'm not a ballroom dancer but I often dance with some. I am a CW fan because those dances seem to be more relaxed and the dancers more social. I'm also a snow bird so I associate with a diverse range of dance friends from several regions of the US and other countries.
    My experience is competitive dancing does not use the same skill set as social dancing.
    Ballroom teaches discipline and technique that is useful in CW, so does CW competition.
    Waltz is very much alike in both worlds, just more relaxed in CW.
    ChaCha is slower in CW.
    Three styles of WCS; ballroom, CW, and WSDC; the later two are most similar.

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