Line Dancing, whether it be country line dancing or line dancing to other genres of music, is a very loved group activity. There are many reasons to take it up. As discussed in another post about the impact line dancing can have on Seniors (Click here), it is an activity that is beneficial for physical and mental health and well-being. But this goes for all ages!
4 Great Ways for Beginners to Learn How to Line Dance
There’s really nothing like dancing, and line dancing is great fun. This post hopefully will give you some strategies for how to learn how to line dance and how to get involved with social gatherings that love this activity.
1. Learn How to Line Dance at Home with YouTube
While generally, people take up line dancing with others, perhaps you are a little shy and intimidated by everyone who’s already so good at it. That’s okay! It’s possible to get pretty far into line dancing all on your own! And then venture out once you have that confidence.
So, thank goodness for the internet! Nowadays with YouTube just like a lot of things, there are tons of videos and many people putting up free tutorials. YouTube tutorials are a way for you to get some basic skills down and beyond.
I like how it’s possible to learn a dance by yourself in the comfort of your home, then go out to a local country bar and be ready. When the song comes on and the dance you already know is called your confidence soars and you do great.
But even if you aren’t the shy type and you’re already frequenting a local dance venue, learning a line dance on YouTube is a great help. Most saloons with regular lessons post the upcoming schedule on their website. Many times I have just checked the schedule to see what the dance is going to be and spend a little time searching for it on YouTube and watching a lesson.
It is great to be even just a little familiar with the dance that is about to be taught. Over the last few years, I’ve become familiar with some really great instructors with YouTube channels. I’ve rounded some up for you here:
Some of my favorite line dance tutorial YouTube channels:
Candy Sherwin – Agoura Hills, California
|Instructor||YouTube Subscribers||Videos||Oldest Video|
|Candy Sherwin||2.97K||87||10 Years|
I’ve often watched Candy’s line dance tutorials. She does a great job and has been adding lessons to her channel for 10 years. She is a dance instructor and dance coordinator currently at BL Dancehall & Saloon in Agoura Hills, California. She is also a dance instructor and choreographer at the Los Angeles Performing Arts Center. If you look back at some earlier videos of hers you’ll see her teaching at Borderline Bar & Grill. This is the bar in Thousand Oaks California where a tragic shooting took place in 2018. The owners plan to eventually renovate and reopen the bar and dance saloon but currently have opened a second location in Agoura Hills, California called The BL Dancehall & Saloon. This is where she teaches locally.
Click here to go to her YouTube channel and browse all her videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/CandySherwin/videos
Below is one of her videos where she teaches American Kids. This is a line dance that has been around for about 5 years now but is still super popular and a good beginner line dance to try to master.
Patti Leathers – Merrit Island, Florida
|Channel||YouTube Subscribers||Videos||Oldest Video|
|Dancing with Patti||6.36K||404||10 Years|
Patti Leathers, known by her YouTube channel “Dancing with Patti,” has one of the biggest channels for line dance tutorials (over 400 and counting). She is from Florida and teaches at The Spare Time Bar and Grill in Merritt Island, Florida. She is super down-to-earth and a lot of fun and has just made sure to make a video for every dance she’s ever taught in her classes.
Check out her YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/dancingwithpatti/videos.
Also, check out her website at dancingwithpatti.com. There’s a great page there that lists all her line dances (A-Z) with links to quickly take you to her YouTube video for that dance. She’s also been adding some really great “dance party” videos during the pandemic. In these, it’s not a lesson, but just her dancing 5 different line dances.
Below is one of her videos where she teaches Knockin’ Boots. This is a 32-count, no tag, beginner line dance. The video is a great example of how Patti demonstrates and teaches a line dance.
Cindy McMichael – Tacoma, Washington
|Channel||YouTube Subscribers||Videos||Oldest Video|
|Line Dancing with Cindy||6.73K||94||6 Years|
Next is the channel from Cindy McMichael. Her YouTube channel is Line Dancing with Cindy and is another go-to for learning. She is very consistent and does a great job running through a demo and teach of the line dance in each video. She is based out of Tacoma, Washington and I believe teaches locally there.
Check out her YouTube channel here: Line Dancing with Cindy (YouTube).
Check out one of her videos below. She gets a little visitor while teaching. This is her teach of the line dance Have Fun Go Mad.
Shelly Graham – Anaheim, California
|Channel||YouTube Subscribers||Videos||Oldest Video|
|Shelly Graham||151||36||6 Years|
One last channel I want to mention is that of a friend of mine: Shelly Graham. Shelly is a teacher and choreographer in Southern California and teaches regularly at The Ranch in Anaheim, California. Her channel is relatively small, but she has some of her own choreographed line dances here that you might not see other places. Check it out.
Check out her YouTube channel here: Shelly Graham (YouTube)
For a featured video from her channel, I chose her teaching one of her own choreographed dances: California. This was a little tricky to learn but worth it! It’s a really great line dance.
Once you start using YouTube to learn line dances online you’ll discover many different channels, with hundreds of videos to watch. These are just a few that I have found and then found myself returning to. Happy hunting!
2. Using Step Sheets to Learn Line Dancing
Another way to learn how to line dance is to access existing step sheets for the line dances you want to learn. This is actually a more difficult way to go, particularly if you’re a beginner. But as you improve you may find yourself more interested in them.
Step sheets (or step description sheets) are simply a written form of the dance choreography. They detail each step, breaking it down to show when the steps for a dance are done and how they line up with the beats in the song.
One challenge can be that you need to know some basic line dance terminology. For instance, what is a Grapevine? A step sheet may say “Vine to the right” etc. (“Vine” is short for Grapevine). Step sheets also typically give you some good basic stats about the dance, namely: how many counts, how many walls, the level of difficulty as well as who was the choreographer and what song it goes with.
I have used step sheets at times to supplement my learning of a dance at a lesson when I was a little foggy about part of the dance. It can clear it up since it’s spelled out in black and white!
In my post 20 Beginner Line Dances You Need to Know I’ve included a downloadable step sheet with each dance. Below is an example of one for the pretty simple dance The Electric Slide, just to give you an idea of a basic step sheet.
A very popular website to obtain pretty much any line dance step sheet you might need is Copperknob.co.uk.
Another great website that is a good resource is a site called: https://linedancin.net/ This is a good resource for people in California cause the list of line dances has links to the California versions. Click here for that page. You’ll also see a link from this page to the Copper knob step sheets for those versions.
Lastly here’s a short video with some tips for how to use step sheets for line dancing. This is one of Robert Royston’s How To country dance videos.
3. Learning How to Line Dance with Private Instruction
Learning to line dance can be completely free, but if you want to invest some money, this can be a really great way to get started and advance. Like anything else in life, the more you put into something the more you get out of it! Private line dance lessons can vary in pricing depending on how good the instructor is and how in-demand they are.
This can be a good option if you are nervous about getting out in public and not really knowing what you’re doing yet. Here are some other advantages of private line dance lessons:
- Personal attention. You can ask the instructor to slow down or speed up to match your speed of picking up the dance.
- You can choose the dance you want to learn. This is a great thing because I know for myself, I seem to prefer the dances that go with the songs I like. So, if you want, just learn those!
- Builds Confidence. Similar to learning at home with YouTube, when you get out to a dance venue to line dance, you’ll do so with confidence.
4. Learning How to Line Dance at a Country Bar or a Community Center
I’ve waited till last to talk about what is actually my first choice for how you should learn to line dance. This can be the most intimidating or frustrating way to learn to line dance, but also the most fun and effective.
This has been the main way for me to learn. Most country bars with dance floors have a good teacher and a schedule for the lessons they give. Typically the lessons are free. The bar may have a cover charge, but that’s it! So, for a small cover charge you can get in and get some free lessons. The difficulty really is just getting started.
That first night on the floor during your first lesson, you may feel a little overwhelmed. The key is to be patient and not give up. The first time I ever tried to learn a line dance I walked off the floor about 1/2 way through the lesson! The next time I made it about 3/4 through, and then on the third try I did it! I just had to keep coming.
Here are some tips for taking free group lessons, whether it be in your local country bar or a community center where there are lessons. If you are a beginner it can be more challenging than you thought. It takes a little while to get used to memorizing choreography and developing muscle memory for all the steps and at the speed of the dance.
1. Watch YouTube! I know I already mentioned this. But use YouTube to get ready before you even go. See if the bar has a schedule of what lessons will be taught and look it up to see if there’s a YouTube video of that dance. Even if you don’t totally get it down at home it will help. I’ve even thought I had it down at home, only to still feel a little lost during the lesson. But the at-home practice gave me a clue what was happening and the leg-up I needed.
2. Stand in the middle! One thing about a typical line dance is that it has “walls.” As it progresses, it turns. When the sequence of steps in the dance ends, it is designed to have you facing either the next wall to your right to start over or even the “back” wall to start again. The idea here is not to try to “hide in the back!” If you’re in the back row, as the dance progresses you will then find yourself in the front! Everyone will be looking at you, and you won’t be able to watch anybody.
Stay in the middle so that as the dance progresses there will always be someone in front of you that you can watch. You’ll also have a closer view of the teacher as they show the steps.
3. Know some Basics. Another thing that can help you be successful is to do a little study of some basic line dance terminology before you go out to the local bar. But, no worries! Here are a couple things for you to know:
The first thing is that Line dances are typically 16, 32, 40, 48, and even 64 steps (based on the level of difficulty). You may have noticed these numbers are all divisible by 8! The music typically will have a 4/4 time signature, but dancers count beats in sets of 8, hence line dance choreography is grouped and taught in sets of 8 or with “8-count.”
Next, line dances are known for having one, two or four walls. A one-wall dance means you will end up facing the same direction when all steps are performed. In a two-wall line dance, at the end, everyone has turned 180º and the dance starts again with everyone facing the back.
Then, with a four-wall line dance (the most common), at the end of the steps, everyone has turned 90º when they start the steps again. As the dance progresses you will keep finishing and starting again facing the next wall to the right.
These walls are known by the numbers on a clock. At the start, everyone is facing the “12 o’clock wall.” Then after the steps are performed the dance begins again on the “3 o’clock wall” etc.
4. Social Connections. So, that’s the basics and enough to give you a jump start to getting involved with line dancing. But the final thing to know is that line dancing is a great way to connect with people. I would be remiss not to mention a big part of my improvement as a dancer is largely due to the friends I’ve made while doing it. There are some really great and genuine people in the country dancing community, and really, staying connected to people ends up being the main thing. You just end up becoming a better dancer also!