Appalachian Thursday–Kicking Up My Heels
I went to high school in West Virginia. That means we had square dancing lessons in gym class. Yup, nothing better than being forced to do an “old-fashioned” dance with other awkward, pubescent teens. Of course, I secretly enjoyed it, but don’t tell anyone. I was already sufficiently uncool in those days.
In Miracle in a Dry Season the residents of Wise, WV, have a barn dance. They do some square dance sets, but there are also folks flat footing or buck dancing. Generally, buck dancing is a lot like clogging, but done solo. Flat footing is similar, but with feet staying closer to the floor and less clicking and stomping.
Both styles are usually done alone in a small area without much arm movement. I’ve heard it suggested the style was tailored for entertainment in small houses in the winter so more folks could get up and dance without running into each other. Or maybe it’s just a translation of the Scotch-Irish dance styles our ancestors brought with them to the mountains.
Either whichaway, it’s fun. You may not have the nerve to break out these moves the next time you’re at a club or a maybe a wedding, but in the privacy of your living room it’s a hoot.
For a great example of flat-footing, check out this YouTube video. Love the fluid body movements and the sense that he’s totally wrapped up in what he’s doing. You can also watch folks square dancing in the background.