In November 1989, 21 independant event directors met in Grantville, Pennsylvania to form the United Country Western Dance Council ® (UCWDC®). These directors shared the desire to unite the country under one set of competition rules and establish national standards for country dance events to ensure quality for their attendees. At the meeting in Grantville the Directors took the North American Rules, developed by many of the same people in a meeting in Las Vegas in 1988, and granted full sanctioning to the 23 events that used these rules in their entirety in 1989. That historical one-day meeting ran for almost 24 hours because no one wanted to leave until the job was done.
The history of the UCWDC® is portrayed through the biographies of these founding and pioneer members, both before the incorporation of the UCWDC®, and today, many years later.
Thank you to the Founding Members and other Pioneer Directors who had a vision, and led the way down a road that has turned out to be an incredible journey, and enthusiastically nurtured a diverse and exciting dance sport!
The Whole Story
Country dance is a grassroots dance sport born from entertainment after a hard day’s work. It is inclusive, casual and friendly. It is fun. It is accessible to people of all ages, abilities, sizes and shapes. It’s as much about participating as winning. It has a sense of community that is as strong as the spirit of competition. It is uniquely American, yet built on core values that are shared around the world.
Country dance is inseparable from the music that gives it form. Part of the appeal of country dancing is that it is linked to the most commercially popular form music in the world. There’s nothing exclusive about the stories and melodies that come from the experiences of the working class. Country dance can be traced back to rodeo socials in the west and barn dances to the east. You could find it in honky-tonks and dance halls. Country dance started as social dancing. These weren’t dances choreographed for royalty or commissioned by the wealthy. These were dances that came from working folks and were shared in a sense of community and celebration.
With the country music explosion of the late-80s and early-90s, there were groups of country dancers in most every small town dancing in honky-tonks, community centers, church basements, school gymnasiums and VFW halls.
The United Country Western Dance Council was born when people across the United States recognized this grassroots dance phenomenon. What would happen if these groups came together? What if there was a competitive circuit for country dancers?
Over time that vision became a reality. You can read about the history of the organization here:
When the founders of the UCWDC got together to form a competitive dance organization, they selected dances that came from the social arena: Schottische, pony swing, polka and two-step, They mixed in a smattering of popular dances borrowed from ballroom, like waltz, cha-cha and east coast swing. Keeping an eye on popular social dances, they added triple-two step, nightclub, and west coast swing and opened doors for line dance and team dancing.
Over the next 20 years, the competition format was refined and organized in a way that put country dance on a par with other dance forms. While the organization is committed to advancing country dance as a competitive dance sport, the UCWDC remains committed to making dance accessible to as many people as possible.
Join us, won’t you?
There is a place for both social dancers and competitors in the UCWDC family and our events provide educational, social and competitive opportunities. Our rules and judge certification process assure a consistent and fair competition platform for those who want a competitive environment. Pro-am, couples, line dance and team divisions are part of our competitive format. Our top dancers are highly trained, dedicated athletes. The UCWDC is a member of the International Dancesport Federation and efforts are underway to make country western dancing an Olympic sport.
Country western music is written in a wide variety of rhythms. While our signature dance is two-step, our dances include familiar dances from ballroom and swing. In competition, our couples dance 8 dances: polka, triple two, nightclub, cha-cha, waltz, two step, east coast swing and west coast swing. The choreography chosen for our line dance competition is based on those same rhythms.
What is Country Dance?
Country western dance is community of people who enjoy dancing to country music and includes both couples dancing and line dancing. Country music calls for a wide variety of dance styles, so we include all sorts of dances highlighted by our signature dance, the two-step. Country music has an enduring appeal to people from many cultures and lifestyles. The fun, welcoming and casual atmosphere is appropriate for families, couples and singles. There is something for everyone and you’ll find people of all ages and abilities all over the world who participate socially or competitively in country western dance.