Country? Western?

As a new member I'm puzzled why this forum is called 'Country & Western' as I though this term werm was rejected years ago. I though it was just 'Country' now, can someone enlighten me?:confused:


Active Member
Welcome to DF! I live in the heart of CW dance and we usually do refer to it as country western, but sometimes shorten it to just country. Country western is in the description of both the big United Country Western Dance Council and the much smaller American Country Dance Association. I think the term country western is used to distinguish the modern blend of dances from more traditional folk dances that are also often referred to as country dances?

Steve Pastor

Staff member
To parphrase what one of the radio stations used to say, "We dance all kinds of dances, both country and western".

Common usage is common usage. And names are just names.

"Cowboys" and "sod busters" came from Europe, Mexico, and places in "the East", and they brought their dances with them.
I guess two step can be considered to be "Western", but most dances are "country".

Where does Night Club Two Step and West Coast Swing fit in? West Coast Swing was called Western Swing for an entire decade. But Skippy Blair and other teachers in California wanted to disassociate it from "country" music.
What about Balboa? California is in the West, but most of us don't think of it quite that way.
People do NC2S and WCS in "Country Western" places, but not Balboa.
Come to think of it, people do East Coast Swing to country western music.
Or is it just country music?

Hey, it's just a name! Just don't call it late for dinner!

Vince A

Active Member
It's is strange that the word, "western," has stuck with it.

The are very large numbers of C&W dancers in Europe, Australia, and Japan . . . albeit, a lot of that dancing is line dancing!

Side note: Just listening to the crossover "C&W" music of today . . . sure sounds like rock to me.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
I like to say that we shouldn't be surprised that country sounds like rock, since one of the two main strains that became known as rock n roll came from "country" players.
Remember those rockabillies?
The other part was the r&b jump blues and doo wop.
And, while I'm on the soap box, it looks like country musicians have been doing blues, too, as long as they have been recording music. (Well, lots of early rock was in the 12 bar I IV V mode with blue notes. But it had been part of "Country" for a long, long, time.)

Here's a thought. I grew up in Pennsylvania. Well, Western Pennsylvania I like to say, more as a joke than anything else.
When I first moved out here the the Pacific Northwest, it seemed odd that peole were wearing cowboy boots and hats, western shirts, etc.
Rural people in PA wear flannel shirts and work boots.
Now, I have a bunch of western shirts, Wranglers, a really good pair of western boots...
I've gone country. Or is is Western?
Maybe it's a fashion thing, partly?

Not too many rodeos around Pittsburgh. Out here there are two big ones in the northern part of Oregon (Mollala and Pendelton). I'm sure there are more.
How could it be country without rodeo songs (thanks, Garth) and songs about cowboys?

Read a book recently about how important California was in country music there for a while, and maybe still is... (Bob Wills, Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakum, etc).

And you know, I hear they have cowboys in Austrailia.

Yeah, lots of people still dig the cowboy/western thing.

Sorry, near rant.


Active Member
Yea, when the Eagles and Keith Urban are country music, probably anybody can be. The next thing you know, Kenny Chesney will be writing country music from a beach near Jamaica with Jimmy Buffet :)

I do think country western dance keeps the western in the name to help define it as different from ballroom, line dance and folk dance. Around my area, a country dance would be a square dance and round dance blend of folk dances. Going dancing at a country western dance would tell me there was going to be a 2-step, chacha, swing and line dancing combo.
...And you know, I hear they have cowboys in Austrailia.

Yeah, lots of people still dig the cowboy/western thing.

Sorry, near rant.
Well, they got (or had) real cowboys in Florida. My grandpa earned his living on a quarterhorse, working stockyards and ranches up to about 1980 (and his mid '70s) here in Northwest Florida. Cowboys ain't just in Texas. ;)
Cowboy and country are two words where the definition has gotten fuzzy. 200 years ago cowboy was someone who rode a horse for a living. Today, it seems to be anyone who buys a cowboy hat. But things being what they are, new people are turned on to country music and dancing and bring new things from their backgrounds, some for the better, some for the worse Frankly, I'm happy with the rock bias, way better than the pop-y sound from the late 80's early 90's.

Just my stubborn opinion :p


Well-Known Member
And have you got the term folk dance still in use?
Yup, still got that. It is interesting how terms are used differently depending where you are and who you talk to. Reminds me of the typical confusion associated between bars and measures in music. (They can be used interchangeably.)
As far as I'm concerned, Country & Western music became extinct sometime in the 70's, when they stopped singing about (real) cowboys, cattle drives, train robberies, gunfights, etc.
99% of what calls itself 'Country' today is basically just Pop with a twayng.
If you hail from a place the dominant media culture (L.A., NYC & Chicago) considers 'Southern' - which, somewhat mysteriously, includes MO, KY and WV - or you can at least passably fake an accent that (to them) might sound suchly, you wear a hat from Western Warehouse and you got a 'coostic gittoawr for a necklace, on which you like to play descending pulloff legato riffs, congratulations - You Are Country. Like Taylor Swift.
As for the modern definition of 'Cowboy', I'll just go by what women apparently mean when they say they're looking for one: Dresses like a rodeo queen (sparkly/'tattooed' shirt with pearl snaps), doesn't tkae his hat off indoors (=the bar, any real cowboy would be horrified), sounds like Toby Keith over the smartphone (calls her 'dar'lin') and drives a $ 40,000 dualie (from his job as an insurance salesman to the golf course).

On the plus side, Country bars offer ample opportunity to use your ballroom skills: 2-Step = Foxtrot, CW Swing = Jitterbug, Nightclub 2-Step = Rumba, Polka = Polka, Waltz = Waltz, etc.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Here's a group that was playing the RattleSnake Saloon when I visited Munich this past summer. I enjoyed the heck out of these guys. Why did I have to go to Europe to hear this kind of country music being played?

The first tune they played at the Rattlesnake was a Bob Wills tune recorded in 1942.


Well-Known Member
...Why did I have to go to Europe to hear this kind of country music?

That actually is an interesting question. Is it possible that an establishment of successful musicians and their labels try to hold down the following generations in the us? By the way, I went to an really interesting small club concert of these rebellious youngsters that toured Germany: really fresh, inspiring and reminding me a little bit of the punk area.

Chris Ledoux and Garth Brooks among others, have sung many a "country and western" song about real cowboys, with one of my favorites by Garth called "Cowboy Bill," a beautiful waltz. There will never be another Chris, and I can't wait for Garth to bring out another album. Here in Kansas we call it Country music. And that western flair is there, too. We're just glad we still have a place or two to go dance, and most of the music whether country, western, with some pop country thrown in, is still very danceable. That's what it's all about here!

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Just happened to turn on the country station, and heard this one, which goes to show that maybe the western part of C/W ain't completely dead yet.

Recent comments indicate that I'm not the only one glad to hear "some real songs rather than the punk country that's so common."

Yes, I'd do nite club to that one.

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