What is a Tag in Line Dancing? And Why it Matters.

This post will deal with some important dance terminology, namely tags and restarts. I’ve been line dancing for a few years now and while I love all country dancing including line dancing, honestly I’ve yet to be excited about the “tag” in line dancing, but it is something that you will come across with certain dances before long, particularly with improver or intermediate line dance choreography. It takes a little more effort and attention, but just like line dancing, in general, you can learn them and let them add a little spice to the dance!

A tag in line dancing is the additional inserted steps to the dance. It is extra choreography in addition to the main choreography of the dance. Tags are necessary for line dances from time to time because of how a song is written. If a song has a “bridge” or a break from the standard phrasing of the song the added tag is an additional sequence of steps in the dance (extra choreography). A song with a bridge is also referred to as “out of phrase.” A part of the song is different and has an inconvenient number of steps. The tag is created to align with this odd part of the song to keep the dance going while you’re waiting for the song to pick up again and repeat the dominant structure or phrasing.

An Examples of Line Dances with and without Tags

Simple line dances that don’t have tags are typically danced to songs that have perfect phrasing. This means that the song is evenly phrased in 32 count sets or verses. Below is a good example:

The Rock Me line dance is a favorite and it’s fairly simple. There are some instrumental parts in the music, but they just complete the 32 count phrasing or verses in the song. The 32 counts are danced to all the way through to the end of these and the dance begins again! No tags needed!

Below is an example of a song that has a bridge and requires a 16 count tag. Eric Church’s song Drink In My Hand:

Notice that there are 16 counts needed to fill up the time of the instrumental bridge of the music–not 32 which would be needed just to repeat the 32 count dance sequence.

Restarts in Line Dancing

Like a tag in the choreography of a line dance a “Restart” is also something needed when a song is “out of phrase.” A restart is simply stopping before all the dance steps are completed and beginning over. This could be needed if say a song has 32 count verses, but then the chorus only has 16 counts. At the end of the chorus, it would be common for the choreography to just restart the dance at that point to start with the first count of the next verse.

Some popular line dances that you’ll run across in your local bar that have a restart are:

Goin’ Hamm – Choreographed to Crank It Up by Colt Ford
Ain’t Too Cool – Choreographed to Ain’t Too Cool by LunchMoney Lewis

A Little More About Tags…

Another thing to know about tags is that there can be tags of any length. A tag can be 1, 2, 8 counts, etc., –as many beats as that extra piece of music is.

Obviously, if a line dance has a tag it adds a layer of complexity to the dance. As a beginner line dancer, it will be normal to like the dances without the tags or restarts more. The saloon where I go the most tends to teach these easier dances on the weekend when new people come. This is good since they’re becoming introduced to line dancing perhaps for the first time. And naturally, these are going to end up being the more popular line dances. When it comes to tags try to just look at them as “bonus steps!”

More advanced dances that include tags and restarts are more challenging and as you become more advanced in your skill I think you will welcome the challenge. I hope this helps to explain the reasons for tags and restarts.

My Experience with Tags and Restarts

If you keep getting out to go line dancing, you will get better. You many have the line dance down except for the tag or restart. There have been many nights when I am dancing along just fine and then someone calls out “Restart!” or “Here comes the Tag!” I’m glad they do! Generally its because there are lots of us that just aren’t that good to remember it! It’s common to get a little help from either the person teaching that night or just the regulars that know the dance well. I appreciate that heads up when the tag is starting or there’s a restart. I still might not remember all the tag steps, but at least I’m ready to watch everyone and fake it!

Below are two videos showing the dance mentioned above. Eric Church’s Drink in My Hand is a good example of a song with a restart. The first is from Sandy Goodman, the choreographer, but a little blurry. I included the second from Dancing with Patti. This one is a little clearer and easy to see. It is especially more helpful at the tag part of the lesson.

Sandy Goodman teaches her award winning choreography for Drink in my Hand (go to the 5:57 point in the video to see the tag).
https://youtu.be/oDfNswhPe_0
Dancing with Patti’s teach of Sandy Goodman’s dance. See 2:25 in the video for when she teaches the tag and 4:14 when she shows it in the demo part of the video.

Brian Sheridan

I'm the owner of CDT. I live in Fullerton, California, and enjoy country dancing with my friends at least once a week.

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