It’s fun, but is it a line dance?

I’m sure you’ve heard the lyrics by now to Blake Shelton’s latest tune, “Boys ‘round here” where he sings “[You don’t do the Dougie?]  Naw, not in Kentucky.”  Well like most of you, I didn’t know what he was talking about either!  It turns out that “the Dougie” which derived it’s name from late 80’s rapper, Doug E Fresh1, is one of the latest new dances out there and apparently it’s been around for a while (who knew?!).  However, like many pop culture dances that come out, I’m often asked to teach it. But I only teach line dancing, so can I really teach this?  I’ll have to put it to the test.

So what is line dancing technically?
Webster’s Dictionary provides a pretty limited definition of line dancing, so I defer to Wikipedia which encompasses more detail and cultural influences for the definition.  According to Wikipedia, “A line dance is a choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows without regard for the gender of the individuals, all facing either each other or in the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time. Line dancers are not in physical contact with each other. Older “line dances” have lines in which the dancers face each other (ie: Tricky, Tricky), or the “line” is a circle (ie: 16 Step or Structured Couples dances), or all dancers in the “line” follow a leader around the dance floor; while holding the hand of the dancers beside them.”The last sentence isn’t a constant of line dancing now, so we’ll focus on the earlier parts of the definition.

Ok, so now that we know how to define line dancing, let’s put these new dances to the test!

  The Dougie Cupid Shuffle Harlem Shake Cha Cha Slide Gagnum Style Wobble
Repeated Sequence for whole song No standardized sequence 32 count 4 wall No Yes, but with tags For chorus, but not remainder 32 count 4 wall
One+ lines No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Same Direction No wall change Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Same Timing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Is it a Line Dance?? NO YES! NO YES!* NO YES!

*The Cha Cha Slide is tricky because it has multiple tags, but it qualifies!

So since some of these popular dances are not actually line dances by definition, you will not find them in my line up.  However, for those interested in learning them, here is some info and links to help you along:

  • The Dougie generally consists of shimmying and then gliding one’s hand through one’s hair.  Each person who does the dance tends to add his own flair to the standard, and those variations help distinguish the Dougie from previous dance phenomena. 1   No Dougie, after all, looks quite the same.3
  • Gangnam Style is a freestyle dance developed by South Korean musician Psy to his song of the same name.  Although it is freestyle though most of the song, it has a standard choreography during the chorus made up of 5 primary moves: gallop, lasso, leg sweep, chest pop and pose.
  • Harlem Shake, originally called the albee, is commonly associated with a similar dance move called ‘The Chicken Noodle Soup’.  It mainly involves upper body movements and, according to the choreographer, Al B, it “comes from the ancient Egyptians and describes it as what the mummies used to do. Because they were all wrapped up, they couldn’t really move, all they could do was shake.” 4

    Note that this should not be confused with the Harlem Shake videos5.  They are an Internet meme in the form of a video in which a group of people perform a comedy sketch accompanied by a short excerpt from the song “Harlem Shake”.  The videos usually last about 30 seconds and feature part of the 2012 song “Harlem Shake” by American electronic musician Baauer.  Baauer’s song starts with a 15 seconds intro, a bass drop, then 15 seconds with the bass, and a lion roar at the end of the first 30 seconds. Usually, a video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or seemingly unaware of the dancing individual. When the bass drops, the video cuts to the entire crowd doing a crazy convulsive dance for the rest of the video, often wearing either a minimum of clothes or crazy outfits or costumes while wielding strange props.

  • Since the Cupid Shuffle, Wobble & Cha Cha slide are all in fact line dances, we have step sheets for these dances.  Note that the Cha Cha slide is unique in that it has many tags throughout the song and you typically follow along to the words of the song (think hokey pokey for lack of a better example).

No matter what style of dance you choose to do, go out and have fun with it!  If it’s not perfect and if it’s not actually a line dance… WHO CARES as long as you’ve got your most important dancing asset to show for it… a smile.

1 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dougie
2 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_dance
3 – The Wall Street Journal; “What’s the Latest Move in Sports? Doing the ‘Dougie’” by Ben Cohen
4- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_shake_(dance)
5 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlem_Shake_(meme)

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