Monday, April 19, 2010

US loses grip on line-dance lasso

THE romance between Australia and the US seems to keep growing stronger but surprisingly one 'very American' pastime has been losing its cultural stranglehold.

Line dancing, the partner-less style that lonesome cowboys are credited with devising around their campfires on the prairies, has broken some of its country-and-western domination.

Ormiston line-dancer Liz Keenan makes this point when talking about the classes she holds at the Donald Simpson Centre and Redlands RSL Club, Cleveland.

"NOWADAYS, while American country music is still very popular we dance to any type of music whatsover, whether it be from Michael Buble or any of the other popular performers," Liz says. "There is still the country but not as much. Line dancing has changed; the music is extremely varied now."

Liz was born in Ireland and lived in the US for four years but she did not see any line dancing until she lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the 1990s.

She took up line-dancing after moving to Queensland about 12 years ago and saw a notice for classes at the Thornlands Dance Palais. She has been the head teacher with Emerald Line Dancers for the past three years.

"A LOT of the modern influences come from the choreographers in England but we have a lot of good Australian choreographers too -- like Gordon Elliott from Sydney and Jan Wyllie from Hervey Bay," Liz says.

"The internet has played a role, with sites like YouTube allowing us all to see what others are doing around the world, and there are also some good line-dancing sites."

Liz says the Donald Simpson Centre classes each Monday draw about 35 regular dancers. "It's extremely beneficial for anyone aged from nine to 90 as it exercises the mind as well as the body," she says.

"You start by learning the sequence but every dance is different - it's exercise, fun and social."

OLDER dancers sometimes take their grandchildren to the classes but many like the independence of "just being able to come along without worrying about a partner or anyone else", she says.

"Our oldest dancer was Grace Mitchell, who passed away last year at 92 years old," Liz says. "She stopped dancing less than nine months before she died.

"Age has no bearing on line dancing."Although the American form of line dancing started its march around the world in the 1980s, earlier forms of folk dancing are acknowledged as playing a part in the evolution of the style.Liz welcomes new dancers and advertises beginners' groups in the Classifieds Training & Tuition column.

Thanks for joining me to meet the great people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. More stories at This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Queensland, Australia. Image from

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