Country dance grows in popularity

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    By Loni Lawrence

    Flip the cowboy hat on, kick up the heels and polish that flashy belt buckle because country-style dance along the Wasatch Front is breaking traditional stereotypes and growing in popularity.

    Barbie Ahlstrom, a senior from Ohio, majoring in home economics, was introduced to country dancing when she went to a dance with a roommate.

    “It was so fun I wanted to learn how to do it for real,” said Ahlstrom, currently enrolled in a beginning country western dance.

    Rick Owens, a senior majoring in history and a teacher for BYU”s beginning country western dance class said, “Country dance is more a partner dance. It”s a lot like ballroom in a country style.”

    With its versatility, country-dance can be enjoyable for old and young. With several new vendors, country dancing is more accessible than ever before.

    BYU has its own Country Dance Club. Every Tuesday of the week, the club is open to all, with or without cowboy boots.

    “There”s a lot of people there,” said Austin Gardner, a sophomore from Kansas, majoring in construction management. Gardner said he first went to the BYU country-dance club because he likes country music and thought it would be something new and fun.

    “Some people were really into it,” Gardner said. “And some were like me, just there having a good time.”

    For Vanessa Tipa, a freshman from Texas, with an open major, country-style dance has a unique draw.

    “Country dance is one of the cleanest kinds of dance,” Tipa said. “It has a better atmosphere than most dances.”

    The Center on Freedom Boulevard and 500 North began hosting country-style dances in November. Held on Thursday nights, dances start with lessons at 9 p.m. and include, along with country swing and line, country cha-cha, country waltz and other country-style dances.

    For a more traditional country-dance experience in the Provo Valley, an older crowd gathers for Saturday night shindigs put on by the Western Dance Club of Utah at the Pleasant Grove Recreation Center. Located at 100 E. 200 S. in Pleasant Grove, the $5 entrance fee covers lessons and dancing until midnight.

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