Country and Western > When Did Country Incorporate Cha Cha?

Discussion in 'Country and Western' started by Generalist, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    All of us who dance to country music learn cha cha as one of the basic dances. But that leads to a question that I haven't found an answer to -- how did cha cha become such an important genre of country music?

    For the most part country cha cha doesn't sound Latin at all, but we know it when we hear it.

    It seems that Cha Cha is a relatively recent dance that was invented in the 1940's. So whose idea was it to put Cha Cha rhythms in country music, and then how did dancers figure out to dance Cha Cha to it?

    Considering Cha Cha had it's origins in Cuban music the pairing to Country music seems to be very odd and under discussed. I have asked several very good country dance instructors but none of them has a clue.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "Many of the favorite ballroom dances were converted to solo, line and Country-Western dances in the late 1970s and the 1980s. The Copacabana by Barry Manilow...set a new trend in line dances throughout the United States."
    A Handbook of Novelty and Country-Western Dances 1983 revised in 1993

    Sometime fairly recently I spent quite a bit of time learning about actual, ie "real" cha cha rhythm. I finally had to conclude that it pretty much doesn't happen in the songs we use for cowboy or traveling cha cha. Anything vaguely Mexican or Carribean will do. (He drinks tequilla. She talks dirty in Spanish.)
    But, those songs allow us to easily dance that cha cha rhythm

    Copacabana is tagged as a disco song, which fits in with the fact that many early "CW" line dances were cross overs from disco. The CW craze was a follow on the disco craze, and many places went directly from disco to CW.
    Cotton Eye Joe, Ten Step, and Schottische were in many respects the model for traveling/cowboy cha cha. There are others with that side by side, round dance style, that I've never seen danced since they pretty much were out of favor by the 80s.

    Here are the songs that the above reference listed:

    "Or any Country-Western music with a strong 4/4 latin beat."

    I have two other 1980s sources I can check for date published and do they include cha cha?" Already checked four or five. Lyoyd Shaw

    Here's another one that gets really close But when was that last time you heard it? (I never have. It's on the Kickit Step Sheet - Choreographed by Unknown)
  3. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    The answer to any "when did country..." question is "when somebody was drunk enough to try it."
    Phil Owl and Bailamosdance like this.
  4. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The music was indeed the 40s. but, the actual dance was much later. Around 1950/1. prior to that, Cubanos danced Guajira,and some still do, which is a similar form, but breaking on 1. This is part of the reason one may see older Cubanos today, dancing Cha cha on 1 :)eek: ) .

    And it didn't appear in full scale in studios, until 1952/3 .
  5. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    The 3rd example is a good country cha cha but I don't think the first two are.

    Pastor said that most country doesn't have a real cha cha rhythm. That seems very odd to me considering how many country tunes are so easy to dance cha cha to. Could somebody please explain this paradox?
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    True latin rhythms are driven by specific instruments..#1 Clave..#2 Tumbao.. #3.. Bass, and Conga ( where the 4 "and" live ).. So.. could one dance the steps of a Cha cha to any 4/4 time sign. ?...of course, but that still doesn't make it a Cha cha, in the strictest sense

    Simply adding a syncopation to music in a set way that, follows the Cha rhythms, does NOT make it a Cha cha .
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks, tt, I was hoping you'd come along.

    Meanwhile, I checked 4 more books I've collected over the years. They were published from 1979 through 1985.
    None of them mention cha cha. So that makes me wonder about the "Handbook.." quote, but "in the 80s" fits.

    Something else I've found is that when someone at a CW bar or dance place picks a tune to use with a particular dance, people then think in terms of "this song is a _______" (fill in the blank with the dance that was taught)

    Somewhat off topic, but
    One that occurs often in my life is when people start dancing the Sweetheart Schottische. Those songs most often have a qqs qqs percussion going on, and since I've (unfortunately?) learned to listen to the music, and someone hurt my shoulder a year or two ago (it's better now, thanks) I am more likely to want to do nite club. I often get baffled looks when I ask women to dance. But... it's a schottische. No, it's not. I finally saw that video from Texas where their schottische matches with the music that's playing, a schottische!
    Maybe I'll check Kickit to see their earliest dated cha cha.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Hi Steve.. I was coaching a C and W Cha cha to a comp. couple in the 80s . I think it was middle years...They were from Raleigh and moved to Texas when I lost them as students..
  9. JoeB

    JoeB Active Member

    Never heard it played in any venue other than a Czech Catholic Club polka dance, but yes, it's pretty distinctive and perfectly matches the dance.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Texas Dance Party - 2 vhs tapes 1993 - I picked up at Movie Madness on the For Sale rack has no Cha Cha.

    Neon Moon - 1992 - is the song I probably first danced Cowboy Cha Cha to.
  11. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    This Easton Corbin tune is an excellent example of the Cha Cha dance in country music. I'm not sure what makes it so good as a Cha Cha dance but it works and people love to dance to it.

  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Simple.. there's a very clear 4 and 1, But.. it's obviously missing the "latin " element. It's also a tad too slow .... catchy song
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'd put it in the same range as Neon Moon. I think it would go over well at Bushwhackers.

    Funny story... You guys have given me cha cha on the brain. Last night I started a dance as a cha cha. Everyone else ended up doing a Horseshoe. I asked my partner if she wanted to switch over to what everyone else was doing (someone I consider to be a newbie, although she did fine with the basics of the dance), she said no, and we cha cha'd on.

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