Country Dancing in West Texas

OK, the title of this post might evoke the same reaction as "Sand in the Sahara Desert" or "Idiots in Congress," but consider this as a public service announcement. I posted a similar article about ballroom dancing a couple of years ago and I continue to get feedback and questions about people who have found it via a search engine, which tells me that there's a dearth of relevant online information about local dancing opportunities. I don't know why it's so hard for dance clubs to maintain accurate and up-to-date websites, or even to have a website in the first place. But until that changes, I'll try to stand in the gap. Don't thank me; that's just the way I roll.

As an aside, when we started dancing a few years ago, we really weren't interested in country dancing, thinking it was all boring two-step, and we resisted learning. But it quickly became obvious that a majority of dancing opportunities involved both types of music - country AND western - and we also realized that country music was much more diverse than we had given it credit for. Indeed, almost all of our ballroom and Latin steps can be used for country songs (although we haven't found a good country tango), and even a traditional two-step is pretty much a straight-line foxtrot. So, if you're a ballroom purist living in West Texas, my advice is simple: lighten up and give country a shot. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Of course, most of the country dancing opportunities week-to-week are going to be found in the various clubs and bars around the area, but that's not my focus here. We're more interested in venues where the dancing and music is the focus, not the "extracurricular activities" that accompany the club scene. That brings us to country dance clubs, and there are two main ones in the Midland/Odessa area.
A completely biased aside about line dancing...
You'll not find line dancing at either of events sponsored by the two clubs mentioned here, and that's a Good Thing in my book. Line dancing is to "real dancing" as checkers is to chess, or as Go Fish is to five card stud. It's repetitive and takes up valuable space on the dance floor. I do understand its attraction though. Line dancing is easy enough to do after you've had a few too many beer-a-ritas, and it's also a dance that ladies can do without having to worry about klutzy guys grinding on their toes. Having said that, I must confess a certain fondness for the cumbia - or at least the Mexican version that's popular in our area - which is really just line dancing that moves around the floor, although it provides more improvisational freedom than the strict choreography of line dancing. Anyway, if you're a country fan looking for a line dancing venue, you'll need to stick with the local bars and nightclubs.

Just Dance Country (JDC)

JDC has been in existence for a few years and membership is open to anyone who is interested in dancing to country music, regardless of skill level or age. Annual dues are $40/couple, and monthly dances are $25/person. Dances are generally held on the first Thursday of each month, 6:45-10:00 p.m. at the Petroleum Club in downtown Midland. Attendance runs 60-90 people. At the lower end of this range, there's plenty of room on the Petroleum Club's excellent new dance floor; at the upper end, things can get a little crowded.

The dance fee includes a light buffet. For those of you who are accustomed to the generally great cuisine at the Petroleum Club...this ain't it. The buffet is a low-rent affair consisting of a green salad with limited dressing alternatives, some sliced fresh fruit, cheese slices and crackers, and a main "entree" of fried catfish or chicken strips, or steak fingers. Dessert consists of cookies. Coffee and tea are provided; there's also a full cash bar. The venue is non-smoking.

The average JDC member is middle-aged (however you want to define that), and most attend as couples, although there's a consistent group of singles in attendance. Dress skews toward casual; boots and jeans are welcomed but not required (I've been right at home with my Converse All-Stars on occasion). 

Overall, JDC dances are non-intimidating, and the dancers seem to genuinely enjoy others' company. And the dances are over early enough that getting up for work the next day is not a brutal event.

For more information, email jdcdc@sbcglobal.net.

Permian Basin Dance Club (PBDC)

The PBDC is a relatively new club, formed about a year ago, and its dances are open to the public. Dances are held every Tuesday, 6:30-10:00 p.m. at the Gloria Denman Ballroom located at St. Stephens Catholic Church in Midland (on Neely Avenue, west of Midland Drive). This ballroom is the best venue in West Texas for social dancing, with a huge floor and lots of comfortable seating.

Dances are $5 per person for members and $6 for non-members. Membership is $10 per year, and is open to anyone regardless of age or skill level. The venue is non-smoking, and alcohol is not allowed at PBDC dances. Dances feature local bands, and attendance is generally more than 100 people. The ballroom is large enough to easily accommodate this many dancers.

The demographic of the PBDC is definitely skewed toward older dancers. Many (most?) attendees are retired, and there are many singles in attendance. Each dance features several "Paul Jones" dances where men and women switch partners throughout the extended music, primarily in order to give the single ladies a chance to dance. Participation is voluntary, of course.

Again, these dances are informal and the crowd is friendly and non-intimidating. The cost is low enough to make it a good place to practice for an hour or two, without feeling guilty for leaving early.

These are not the only local venues for regular country dances, of course. The Odessa and Big Spring Senior Centers host weekly dances (Thursdays for Odessa; Fridays for Big Spring), the Midland Senior Center hosts a bi-weekly dance (Fridays), and the Andrews Senior Center hosts a monthly dance (Mondays). Check with those venues for more details.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on July 9, 2012 12:15 PM.

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