Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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the right foot, to touch the right toe to the floor well in front of him, on the first count. Then bring the right foot back and touch the toe to the floor close beside the left foot on the second count. They then step forward on the right, close left to right, step right, and rise on the toe of the right foot for the next measure counting one-cmd-two-and. Then step forward on the left, close right, step left, and rise for the next measure; then step right, close left, step right and rise for the fourth measure. Then repeat the whole movement beginning with the left foot. That is, point forward with the left, count one-and and point back on the count two-and. Then left, right, left, rise; right, left, right, rise; left, right, left, rise. The whole thing can be repeated, first beginning right and then beginning left, over and over again, point front, point back and then advance straight forward with three sets of polka steps—then repeat. Most of the old-timers, in fact, do it interminably with no varia­tion whatever.
In the regular polka step some of our dancers on the count one-and, two-and, simply take three steps and a rest on the second and, that is, left, right, left, rest, then right, left, right, rest, instead of left, right, left, rise. They rest the last half of the beat instead of rising. As a matter of fact this rise is not on a beat or even a half beat but is really slipped in as a grace note just before the step of the first beat of the next measure. Many people use a hop instead of a rise, and historically it is perhaps the more correct. But this hop also should be a grace note slipped in before the beat, rather than a hop on the beat itself. Now and then we find a dancer who has the subtle trick of it. But on a Western dance floor the great majority either hop, or rise, or rest, but always right square on the count. And, I imagine, it is more forthright and appropriate for a heavy cowboy boot. So take your choice.
Once in a while a couple will be seen doing the Heel and Toe Polka, although it is quite rare in the West. But it is seen often enough to merit a detailed description. In the Heel and Toe Polka the couples take the regular dance position, with the lady's extended right hand held in the man's left, and her left on his shoulder while his right