after enjoying an evening of good western swing music on a ranch near
this question came up. "Why do western dance participants always dance
in a counter-clock wise direction around the dance floor?" Not only
did no one even offer a reason or theory, no one could remember the
question being asked before.
I grew up in a musical family, learned to dance by the time I could
walk, my father supported us by playing dances during the Great Depression,
then I played for dances professionally for 35 years. I should know
the answer. Sorry, I don't have a clue. So, we present the question
to our smart, handsome and beautiful readers, "Why do western dancers
always dance around the floor in a counter-clockwise direction?"
contemplating the question I recalled a few "Trew" stories about
the good old-fashioned western country dances. Here 'tiz!
A lady I once knew was one of six daughters, aged two years apart,
born to a real cowboy and his wife living way out on a ranch in
New Mexico. She said her father was so afraid he would get stuck
with an old-maid daughter or two he made every effort to supply
them with every attribute possible to meet the demands of any suitor.
Such as, he insisted they all become good dance partners, know how
to play poker and be able to cook a decent meal. With no practice
partners nearby, the daughters took turns both leading and following
while learning to dance by a wind-up phonograph. After getting their
homework done many nights they all sat around the kitchen table
and dad taught them how to play poker using kitchen matches as chips.
As a result all the sisters found decent husbands, most were wallflowers
standing around the walls of the local dances. They pulled them
out on the floor and taught them to dance. My friend says, "My husband
leads while dancing until his "toddies" affect his coordination
then she leads and he follows until time to go home. It has been
working for over 50 years."
Another cowboy friend told of being coerced into chaperoning a modern
teenage school dance. He described it as, "The couples stood about
three feet apart and did calisthenics while listening to cannons
going off on the bandstand." Notice here, no circling the dance
floor in any direction. Maybe the youngsters got tired of going
I had a short cousin who was taught to dance by his rather tall,
ample-bosomed aunt. She would drag him out on the floor, clamp his
face into her cleft and circle the floor. He held his breath for
the count of 30 each time then came up for air. He said it wasn't
so bad because the position hid his embarrassed red face, he learned
a lot about the facts of life as well as being taught how to dance.
Since none of these stories have anything to do with answering our
original question, its still up to you readers to tell us, "why
do we circle the dance floor counter-clockwise?" My addresses are
below. I will publish any reasonable answers.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" November
30, 2010 column
Delbert Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be
reached at 806-779-3164, by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or
by e-mail at email@example.com. For books see DelbertTrew.com.
His column appears weekly.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories,
landmarks and vintage or recent photos, please contact