A Clint-meets-Ralph-Lauren dance

Line dancing, new country-style, has arrived in Britain. Bernardine Coverley reports

AT ASHTON'S Club in Cricklewood, north London, Angelique is demonstrating the Tennessee Twister. Spotlit on a high stage, microphone in hand, she bawls out directions in a twangy American accent. Then 100 pairs of Cuban heels hit the dance floor in unison.

Arriving here in the wake of the success of "new country" singers such as Garth Brooks, line dancing is the latest American dance import. Country and western clubs have flourished here for years, but a younger generation of fans are creating a different kind of scene.

"I have a lot of respect for the old country and western," says Angelique, "but over here it's regarded as hokey. My nickname for people who stick to that and run around with little six-guns is the gingham-and-Wyatt Earp set. That's a Hollywood fantasy. This is real." Ashton's is built like a barn, and packs in 400 line dancers every Thursday.

No partner is needed; a line of individuals moves as one. The massive dance floor doesn't take long to fill and some experienced stompers are showing off double spins in perfectly synchronised symmetry. Line dancing owes a lot to the Latin influence of some southern states. It's easy to learn the few simple steps which are put together to make up some 600 dances - like the Rebel Strut, Boot Scootin' Boogie, Cotton Eye Reggae Cowboy, and One Step Forward And Two Steps Back.

Angelique takes her role seriously. "I'm the MC for the evening, I energise, I psych them up and show them how enjoyable it is." Other venues like the Roadhouse in Covent Garden or Diamond Rio's, a monthly club night in West Kensington, have started country nights with live music or disco to capture the surge of interest in new country music. The new venues have demonstration groups to show the steps with authentic style and rustle the dudes on to the dance floor. At Diamond Rio's, dancers do the California Freeze; 10 or so in each line, shoulder to shoulder, learning to glide, stomp, do the box step and the grape vine, led by Kelley Duggan from California.

Many of the twenty- to fortysomething clientle first came across line dancing while visiting America. Fans hear of the venues via London's 24- hour country music station, 1035. Lessons are also becoming popular; Bob and Ian Jupp's weekly class in north London has expanded from 25 to 65 in just two months. June, a Scot living in London, is a regular. She was mesmerised by Denims and Diamonds, a New York club: "Serious dancers, very dressy - they didn't tolerate any beginners on the floor, but I was hooked."

Singer/songwriter Martin Sutton, initiated in a warehouse-sized club in Nashville, is nattily dressed in jeans, waistcoat and cowboy hat. Among new country aficionados, style and dance go together, something between Ralph Lauren and Clint Eastwood - black jeans, jackets with a touch of fringe, silver tipped boots. The hat is regarded as acceptable, but it is distinctly naff to sport the full-blown satin shirts and fake six guns of the older C&W enthusiast.

The first signs that line dancing was about to follow lambada and salsa into popular club culture were in gay venues such as the Cactus Club and Rawhide. The Ranch at Bromptons in Kensington, affectionately known as the Raunch, has been going for more than a year, attracting 200 to 300 - and that's on Sunday afternoons. It began as a one-off event for an Aids charity and never looked back. "It's very friendly, not a pick-up atmosphere, but just like a big party. I don't dance disco, but I do line dance because you don't have to worry about making a fool of yourself," explains enthusiast Nigel Williams.

Big Country, newly opened in Soho, is the biggest venture so far with six nights a week. That lonesome cowboy has moved off the range and into the city.

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

    £12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

    Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders