6 Ways That Country Swing Has Changed the Fabric of America
Written by, Jalluri
Updated June, 22, 2023
Country swing is a fast-paced, vibrant, and incredibly fun partner dance that’s common throughout the American South. It has its roots in 19th century folk dancing, where communities across the country would come together to shake the dust off their boots and reduce boredom in the days before contemporary entertainment.
A remarkable mix of European, African American, and Native American customs and traditions, country swing truly represents the soul of America: a melting pot, where all people are welcome on the dance floor as long as they know how to swing!
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that country swing has enriched the entire country, from physical fitness to expanding tourism.
1. Country swing is an essential part of the country music scene
Music and dance have always been inseparable: musicians often tailor their songs to fit certain dance styles, whether that is ballet or bellydance; on the other hand, dancers almost always choreograph to a certain song, which influences the style they use and the costumes they wear. Many famous country songs were, consciously or not, perfectly designed for country swing, including “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” by Brooks & Dunn, “Beer For My Horses” by Toby Keith and Willie Nelson, and “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” by Shania Twain.
2. Many TV shows and movies reflect this uniquely American dance style
Whenever there’s a scene of someone entering a bar in the Deep South and stomping onto the dance floor, where couples are happily whirling together, you have no doubt that you’re looking at the perfect synchronicity of country swing. While the dance style is the star of many country music videos, it’s also been featured in shows and movies outside of this realm. Many dance competition shows, such as So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing With the Stars, have featured country swing numbers, and it’s also been front and center in the movies Sweet Home Alabama, Pure Country, and Urban Cowboy.
3. Country fashion is deeply entwined with country swing
Swing dancers generally wear Western-inspired clothing, such as colorful shirts in checked or plain prints, denim jeans, wide flaring skirts, and cowboy boots; this aesthetic has made its way into the general repertoire of many influencers, models, and everyday people, who are drawn to the fun and laid-back style of country swing.
4. Tourists love to witness and try this fun dance
There’s no denying that country swing is delightful both to watch and to do, and many of those visiting the South want to create unforgettable memories of true country fun. Those planning a destination wedding to Nashville often book country swing lessons for their wedding party so that everyone can bust some serious moves at the reception; others might go watch a dance show at bars across Tennessee and Kentucky, where they can appreciate the energy and high spirit of this traditional dance.
5. It’s a social activity that bonds communities
People are lonelier than ever these days: according to Harvard University, 36% of Americans, including a shocking 61% of young Americans, feel “serious loneliness” that causes depression, anxiety, and reduced quality of life. This was exacerbated by the pandemic, but many other factors are at play to create a country of isolation: long working hours, unwalkable cities, lack of transportation or money, and moving away from family for job opportunities all contribute to many individuals feeling as if they have no one to turn to and spend time with. Thankfully, country swing can alleviate that for many people.
As a partner dance, country swing is inherently social: you can’t dance it alone, and it’s more fun in groups. Taking country swing lessons and joining the thriving communities of fellow TikTok dancers can help people feel as if they’re connected to others who share a common interest. It’s easier to make friends when you already know that you have something in common, so it’s an excellent way to get to know others and develop lasting friendships that alleviate loneliness.
6. Country swing serves as living preservation of our heritage
Lastly, every time you take part in a country swing, you are connecting yourself back to generations of Americans who created and appreciated this unique style. It’s a syncretic style that draws from numerous traditions, blending them all into something that is both new and old at the same time. There’s no better representation of America’s image as a melting pot of cultures than country swing, a dance style that welcomes everyone to take part. It has a rich and fascinating heritage that shows its evolution from folk dancing to today, one that will make you feel proud to be a part of a living, breathing tradition which continues to grow and change.
No matter where you’re from, you’re always invited to the honky-tonk bar, where you can grab a partner and swing the night away. As you curtsy and hop, appreciate just how important this special dance style is not just to Tennessee and the South, but America as a whole.