Northern Virginia

Country-Western

Dance Association

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I take country-western dance lessons?

A: NVCWDA offers brief lessons at the beginning of each dance, usually one line dance and one couples dance. Consult our "Looking for Lessons" section.

Q: How can I possibly figure out all the dances you do at the NVCWDA dances?

A: Check out our Primer for Newcomers for some advice.

Q: How do I get to NVCWDA dances?

A: Here are directions to NVCWDA dances. The Calendar has directions to dances sponsored by some other dance organizers.

Q: Is country-western dancing the same as square dancing or clogging?

A: No, country-western dancing is not the same. We move around the floor somewhat similar to square dancing, but we don't have someone calling the moves (you're on your own!) and we don't change partners except during a "mixer" dance. (We don't wear those ruffled outfits either.)

Q: Do I need a partner?

A: No. Both singles and couples attend our dances. Singles often are asked to join in couples lessons and couples open dancing. Feel free to approach others and ask them to dance with you.

Q: Do I have to dress up like a cowboy?

A: Some people wear traditional western wear such as jeans, t-shirt and cowboy boots, but many don't. Wear something comfortable so that you can move and wear shoes that don't stick to the floor so that you won't hurt your knees.

Q: Can I bring children?

A: Yes, we welcome children so that we pass along our love for dancing to the next generation. However, we ask that parents/guardians please supervise their children and for everyone's safety do not let them run around on the dance floor. (Also please keep them from ravaging the refreshments!) If children are causing problems, we reserve the right to ask them to leave. Thanks.

Q: Where else can I go to dance?

A: Check out our links.

Q: How do I join NVCWDA? What are the benefits?

A: Check out the membership info.

Q: What is dance floor etiquette?

A: Dance floor etiquette is a system in which faster dancers move around the floor in a counter-clockwise direction on the outside of the dance floor. Slower dancers dance to the inside. Line dancers and swing dancers use the middle of the floor. All dancers respect the space of other dancers to avoid conflicts. For example, line dancers do not block the path of couples dancing around the outside circle, and couples do not cut into the rows of line dancers. Please be considerate of your fellow dancers by practicing dance floor etiquette.

Q: What is a "couples specialty" or "pattern" dance?

A: This is a dance in which all couples on the floor dance the same set sequence of steps. It's somewhat like a line dance choreographed for couples, but the dancers usually move around line of dance. Everyone supposedly is on the same move during the whole dance. Some examples are El Paso, Wooden Nickel, Sidekick, and Sixpack Summer. In contrast, during a two-step or waltz, everyone does their own moves in whatever order they want. Most couples specialty dances also can be danced without a partner.

Q: What is a "mixer" dance?

A: A mixer dance is one in which everybody changes partners at a set sequence during the song. Some examples are Barn Dance, Bull Shift, and Cheeseburger. We usually do at most one mixer dance each evening. This gives people a chance to meet other dancers and to dance with a new person about every 32 beats of music.

Q: I'm planning a special event at my church, school, birthday party, etc. that will have a western theme. Can you provide a dance instructor?

A: Send the information including date, time, and location to info@nvcwda.org or dancedirector@nvcwda.org. We'll forward the material to our regular dance instructors. If one of them is interested, that person will respond to you.

Q: What is the age group at the dances?

A: Most of us are baby boomers, but we welcome all ages.

Q: What is the inclement weather policy for NVCWDA dances?

A: Our weather closure policy follows that of Fairfax County Public Schools. If school activities are canceled on Saturday evening, our dance is canceled as well. The news media will announce any school closing. If we find out early enough, we will put the information on our web site and hotline. You also can check for emergency announcements on the Fairfax County Public Schools emergency announcement web site. They also post announcements on TV Channel 21 (Cox Communications, Reston Comcast, and Verizon cable customers only), Facebook, and Twitter.