The Learn-to-Dance Date
The extent of my dancing skills goes from swaying back and forth to following the foolproof instructions of a wedding classic; in other words, they’re nonexistent. When the opportunity came for my husband and I to try out one of Sycamore Creek Family Ranch’s barn dances, I welcomed the idea of a fun night out with a little two-step how-to.
The night my husband, Austin, and I visited Sycamore Creek Family Ranch for its first Under the Harvest Moon Barn Dance, it was nice and humid. Meandering down the gravel road to the dance, we shared memories of the last time we had visited Sycamore Creek. Earlier this year, we said our “I do’s” at the ranch’s Shiloh Ridge venue on another hot and humid but perfect night. As we rounded the curve, we found the stately barn covered in twinkling lights, just waiting to greet the guests as they shuffled in. Upon arriving, we sat down for a quick bite to eat and observed the initial instructions for the first round of line dancing. The barn dances revolve around four types of dancing: Texas two-step, some country waltzing, swing dancing and line dancing. To kick off the evening, the caller, perched on the small platform above the dance floor, introduced himself and his wife and proceeded to show a few steps of fancy footwork. Admittedly, they made it look easy.
The crowd consisted of young and old, pros and amateurs, and Austin and I contemplated where we fit in as the caller gave out simple instructions. Once the music started, people quickly began to fumble around, laughter erupting across the barn. Polishing off the last of my sandwich, I was eager to jump in, whereas Austin rose from his seat with hesitance. After a quick review for the new dancers joining in, “Cotton-eyed Joe” began to play over the speakers. Almost immediately, the memory of those basic steps left my brain. I struggled to catch up, and before I knew it, the song was over. Line dancing is no joke. The next song required a partner. Determined to redeem myself, I latched onto Austin’s arms and listened intently as the caller walked us through the steps. His left, my right, rotate in a circle and walk backward as you go. Easy enough. Once more, the music started and I was stepping on Austin’s boots with every turn. Laughing at my lack of coordination, I realized country dancing might not be my forte. With every boot scootin’ boogie that played, new steps were added, knocking my pride down another peg.
After a few warm-up songs, the lights dimmed and the dance floor opened up to test our newly found skills—or to revert back to our old swaying tactics. The room was a nice mix of both, relieving the stress I had of trying to impress those around me. So far, Austin was faring much better than I was. As one who does not dance—and vocalizes it often—he carefully trotted across the floor and did his best to walk me through each move, finally finding a rhythm after a few preliminary (and embarrassing) attempts. Three water breaks and one dizzy spell brought on by spinning into my partner later, we retreated to the back patio where we tried our hand at the lawn games set up. Austin beat me at both corn hole and ladder ball, but the cool evening air was a welcome relief from the crowded dance floor. The barn’s lights flipped on, signaling a new dance was about to begin, so we made our way inside. Building on the steps we had learned earlier in the night, the final workout came in the form of “Copperhead Road.” By the second verse, I was already out of breath. As the song sped up, I slowed down, unable to match my stomps to the beat. Looking around at my red-faced companions, I felt accomplished for surviving the night’s initiation.
Having never been to a barn dance before, I was grossly unprepared for the stamina it requires. But like everything else, practice makes perfect—or less embarrassing, at least. So, while we aren’t quitting our day jobs, you might find us at Sycamore Creek on a Friday night laughing our way through the steps and swirling around the dance floor.—Haley Phillips
Step by Step Dance (1722 S. Glenstone Ave., Suite G, Springfield, 417-689-4141) is another great option for dance lessons. Couples have the option of learning many different types of dance, including swing, country, ballroom and salsa. After a first-time free session, group classes are available for $10 per person, or couples can get private lessons for $60 per hour or a package of five classes for $250.