Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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constant line of patter which never ceases, and which has a suspiciously Western tang.
And why not? There has been a constant interplay be­tween the East and the West in every other field of interest. And our pioneer cities in the West also had their formal dances given by the "best people" fifty years ago, and the quadrilles and lancers were as exact and precise as any in New England. But gradually the sagebrush and the cow camp pushed in on them with an uncouth modification of the Kentucky dance, and the do-si-do put on a white collar, celluloid perhaps, and mingled with those "best people."
I treasure a little leather-bound manuscript book of dance calls written in letter-plate longhand by a doctor-druggist in one of our Colorado cities of half a century ago. He called their dances for them and he must have called them elegantly. Every dance is as formal and precise and measured as his beautiful chirography, and it is 100 per cent New England throughout the book.
Tolman and Page describe a couple of dances which they say originated in New York. (Is not New York almost the "West" to them?) In some parts of New England, they say, "These dances were regarded with contempt reserved for the foreigner. But the newer generation found them fun to do and so they became established." And there is the whole story in a nutshell. The modified Western dances were carried back to New England by returning sons, and the young people found them fun to do.
Where were they modified ? I have a friend from Indiana who feels that they started there, but another friend from Illinois feels that his state deserves the credit. Iowa could make out one of the finest claims, if Missouri didn't have so much to say. And Kansas can do some "hollerin'" on her own account.
We of the Rocky Mountains must be careful not to con­sider all these states to the east of us as part of "the East," and our dances as "Western." Here in the high, dry country, alas, Texas and Oklahoma, Montana and Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico, all feel they have a more important part in the picture than even my beloved Colorado. And from across the mountains come voices from Utah and Idaho and California calling, "If you want to see the real Western dance, come out here!" The waves chop back and forth against each other and confuse us as to the original impulses.