The Texas two-step is the staple move of dance floors across the state, so common that most people in the state could do it with their eyes closed. But it has a history.
The concept of a two-step dance came from the popularity of a John Philip Sousa song, “Washington Post March” in 1891, according to an article published by Wide Open Country magazine. Later, the two-step would find its unique style from the foxtrot.
The foxtrot made its way to dance floors in 1914 and from there, it became popular in Texas dance and social halls, but reversed. Instead of the slow, slow, quick-quick motion, dancers glided across the floor in their cowboy boots in a quick-quick, slow, slow way and added the turns and twists from swing dancing.
The first time I ever took the dance floor in Texas was in September 2014 at a friend’s wedding. It was my first time in Fredericksburg. I knew the whole experience was about to become more overwhelming when all of the guests lined up for the seemingly-never ending German march. I had no idea what that was and would have preferred to just sit off to the side and watch.
Later in the evening, I saw men in cowboy hats take their ladies to the floor and dance in a specific way, the Texas two-step. I had never danced like this before, much less danced much in my life. I can barely keep a beat patting on my leg. When I took the floor, it was obvious that there was going to be a learning curve. And I hate to admit, that almost three years later, I am not much better.
Being short and uncoordinated, I spend most of the time getting my toes stepped on. This problem would best be solved by wearing cowboy boots but I refuse to own a pair. Yes, after living in Texas for over a year, I still don’t own cowboy boots. That is mostly because of what my boss calls my ‘Colorado stubbornness’ and my desire to keep my Rocky Mountain identity.
On Saturday, I attended a Josh Abbott Band concert at The Backyard at Fritztown. Other outdoor concerts force you to get as close to the stage as possible all while standing next to your closest stranger. But this was different.
The venue has a concrete space, for you guessed it, two-stepping. While I was hesitant to take the floor, it was fascinating watching couples glide across the floor. It was magical and looked so easy.
During the last song of the night, a 40-something couple that we had been talking with all night, invited us to take the floor with them. The problem was, they were so good. They turned and twisted and boasted that when they were my age, they could even flip.
But I learned something. First, the kindness of a stranger is something this state should be proud of. They reached out to us and took the time to teach us to dance, maybe with the hope that we could pass it on.
Second, Texas is proud of its dance history. Last week, when I attended the Turner Hall meeting, I heard stories of the historic floor and how kids would slide across in socks in between dancing couples.
Texas loves to dance.
With my approaching wedding, I am sure I will have another shot at the Texas two-step but I can guarantee I will not be able to do it with my eyes closed.