While line dancing may conjure up images of hard core, boot-kickin’ ‘90s country music in one’s mind, in reality line dancing is so much more versatile, and there are a number of ways in which modern country fans can enjoy line dancing in the Chicago area.
A line dance is any dance in which a group of individuals line up and follow a choreographed sequence of steps in unison. And though classic country line dancing tunes, such as “Boot Scootin’ Boogie,” remain popular even among younger crowds, today’s line dancers are stepping to a diverse array of different songs, ranging from contemporary country hits like Blake Shelton’s “Honey Bee” and Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” to rock and roll oldies such as Elvis Presley’s “Stuck on You.” For Chicagoans looking to get in on the action, there are several places in the area which offer line dancing, including some local bars, clubs, park districts, and even a few health clubs and banquet halls.
According to Cathy Vary, who was recently filmed line dancing for an American Family Insurance commercial and who has been teaching line dancing in the Chicago area for twenty years, “It’s easy to learn line dancing on the fly, as there are just a few basic steps.” For line dancing beginners, Vary recommends Glendora Banquets in Chicago Ridge, which offers line dancing on Tuesday and Thursday nights in a relaxed learning environment. From 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday night, Vary teaches four line dances, followed by an hour of open dancing from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The first dance that Pat “CountryPat” Stamer, who has been a line dance instructor in Chicagoland since 1990, teaches to those in his line dancing classes is the Electric Slide. According to Stamer, “Many people know the Electric Slide already, and it gives them the confidence to try other dances.” From there, Stamer teaches other basic line dancing steps, including the Grapevine. To do the Grapevine, one takes a step right with the right foot, crosses the left foot behind the right foot, steps to the right with the right foot, then scuffs to the left.
“Country Pat” Stamer periodically offers Rock ‘N’ Country and Country & Western Dance Classes at Dance Center Chicago. Referring to his Rock ‘N’ Country line dance classes, Stamer says, “I teach dances to country songs, and then we switch it over to oldies rock and roll. It is a lot of fun, and the mix of music seems to please those that may not be hard core country fans. I mean, who doesn’t like to Tush Push to Elvis’ ‘Stuck on You’?”
Likewise, Cathy Vary notes that today’s line dancers are just as likely to be burning holes in the dance floor with such R&B and pop tunes as “Mustang Sally” and “Mamma Maria” as they are to be Canadian Stomping to country rock hits like Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine” and Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road.”
One of the largest line dancing crowds in the area converges upon the Saddle Up Saloon in Aurora every Wednesday through Saturday night starting at 7:30 p.m., when the saloon transforms into one giant line dancing party. On these nights, Vary teams up with the Saddle Up Saloon to offer line dance classes that are geared toward both beginner and intermediate line dancers, and sometimes up to 700 line dancers attend per night.
Pondering the Saddle Up Saloon line dancing experience, Vary says, “All dances taught are easy enough for people that have never line danced, yet fun for the experienced dancers. This is the first place I have worked where the experienced dancer will come on the floor for lessons they already know to help the beginners, which is amazing. The people at Saddle Up are very friendly.”
Besides the several suburban bars and clubs that have line dancing, city dwellers can line dance into the wee hours of the night and early morning at Carol’s Pub in Chicago. This quaint, honky-tonk country, Uptown neighborhood bar has line dancing every Friday and Saturday night from 9:00 p.m. until 4 a.m. and is the only bar in Chicago’s city limits where patrons can line dance.
Both Vary and Stamer tout the health benefits of line dancing as well. Stamer says, “Line dancing is a lot of fun, as well as a great workout! In fact, some people do it just for the exercise.” Vary adds that two of her line dancing students lost a substantial amount of weight (55 pounds and 45 pounds respectively) over the past year, and those students attribute much of that weight loss to the multitude of calorie burning moves characteristic of line dancing.
So whether you’re a diehard, boot-kickin’ ‘90s country fan or someone aiming for fitness while enjoying modern country or even rock music, there is a place in the Chicago line dancing scene for you! Contact one of the line dancing instructors listed below for more information on private or group line dancing lessons, or just head on out, either solo or with a group of friends, to one of the venues listed below for some line dancing fun.
Line Dancing Instructors in the Chicago Area
Pat “CountryPat” Stamer has been a line dance instructor in Chicagoland since 1990. He offers private lessons, as well as group and corporate party line dancing instruction. CountryPat’s website is chicagocountry.com, and he can be contacted at 773-339-5670 or [email protected]
Cathy Vary has been teaching line dancing in the Chicago area for twenty years. She specializes in country pattern dancing, choreographed dances, and couples dances, and she offers beginner through advanced group and private classes. Vary can be contacted at 630-201-1504 or [email protected]
Line Dancing Venues in Chicago and the Suburbs
1175 W. Lake St.
Phone: (630) 830-7200
Line dancing: Tuesday night line dance lessons at 7:30, with country dancing until 1:00 a.m.; Friday couples line dancing is from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Saturday line dancing is from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Features: Bring your cowboy boots and hat on the dance floor of this popular hangout for the hardcore suburban country crowd on line dancing nights.
Cover: $4 before 10 p.m.; $5 after 10 p.m.
4659 N. Clark St
Phone: (773) 334-2402
Line dancing: Every Friday and Saturday night from 9:00 p.m. until 4 a.m.
Features: Line dance into the wee hours of the night and early morning at the only bar in Chicago’s city limits that currently offers line dancing. Located in Uptown, Carol’s Pub is a quaint neighborhood bar with a honky-tonk country feel.
Cover: $5 per person
Dance Center Chicago
3868 N Lincoln Ave, 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60607
Line dancing: Classes are offered periodically by Pat “CountryPat” Stamer. Visit Stamer’s website at www.chicagocountry.com or contact him directly at 773-339-5670 or [email protected] for more information on class dates and times.
10225 South Harlem Ave.
Chicago Ridge, IL 60415
Phone: (708) 425-3686
Line dancing: Lessons every Tuesday and Thursday night from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Open dancing every Tuesday and Thursday night from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Features: Cathy Vary is the line dancing instructor in this relaxed learning environment suitable for beginning line dancers. Four line dances are taught each Tuesday and Thursday night.
Cover: $8 per person
Saddle Up Saloon
4440 West Ogden Ave. @ Hwy 59
Aurora, IL 60504
Phone: (630) 585-8600
Line dancing: Every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night starting at 7:30 p.m.
Features: Cathy Vary is the line dancing instructor on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights at this party atmosphere saloon. Two line dances are taught each Wednesday through Saturday night, and both beginner and intermediate line dancers are welcomed.
Cover: $5 per person. Ladies can get in free on Wednesday nights, and college students can get in with no cover charge on Thursday nights.
300 Lakehurst Road
Waukegan, IL 60085
Phone: (847) 887-0858
Line dancing: Complimentary line dance lessons from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday night
Features: The new Sundance Saloon has a 4,000 square foot dance floor and a state of the art sound and lighting system.
Cover: Every Wednesday night there is no cover charge for ladies
8900 S. Archer Ave.
Willow Springs, IL 60480
Phone: (708) 839-1000
Line dancing: Every Tuesday night. Line dance lesson at 7:30 p.m. with line dancing until 10:00 p.m.
Features: Willowbrook Ballroom’s weekly line dancing features the hottest country hits in an intimate, friendly atmosphere. There is a 6,000 square foot dance floor with line dance instructors on a raised stage.
Cover: $8 per person