This is part of the Dance Spot series highlighting different places to go dancing in SF Bay Area.
Dance Spot: Broken Spoke Western Saloon: Line Dancing with Rebel Soles Price: $5 cover; drinks available for purchase Time: Thursdays and 1st & 3rd Fridays: 7:30pm lessons; 9pm dancing Location: 370 Saratoga Ave., San Jose, CA 95129
Someone I met at Wednesday Night Hop‘s Level 1 drop-in class suggested I try out Line Dancing at Broken Spoke Western Saloon. He mentioned Line Dancing is popular at his alma mater, Cal Poly SLO, and many alumni dance here.
So my husband and I came here on a Thursday, accidentally arriving just before 7pm due to overestimating traffic. Guess what? The door doesn’t open until 7pm. So we grabbed dinner and came back around 7:45pm thinking we’d be late for the lesson. But no dancing was happening when we walked in. I was not the only one confused, because a woman asked me if I knew when the lessons were starting.
Finally, around 8pm, the dance lesson started. Chris from Rebel Soles started with a review of the choreography to Stitches from last week. Since Line Dancing involves repeating the choreography facing different walls, Rebel Soles dancers wore their blue uniforms and spread out along the edges and center of the dancefloor to help demonstrate the dance. New to Line Dancing, I was not able to learn this dance in the few minutes.
Next, he taught “The Hillbilly” line dance. This time, he went slowly and repeated several times so we could learn it. The choreography is 32 counts and repeated over and over again, each time turning left to face each of the four walls in turn. It also included a tag in which the song is slightly different and so we do a different choreography to fill in this time.
Then we took a 15-min break until 9pm, when he taught “River City Cha Cha.” I caught the second half of the demo on video.
After the lesson, country music is played and different people would jump in and out of the dance floor depending on the song. Since I had only learned three songs so far, I was confused on how I could join the dancing when they’re playing other songs?
Asking a nearby person, he told me he’s new to dancing so he’d observe the routines to a song for a while first and jump in if it looks easy. After all, the routine is repeated several times in a song, so it’s possible to learn from other dancers within a song. However, if the song has a lot of turns, then it’s probably difficult to learn on-the-spot and he’d sit out until the next song.
Though, of course, being new to Line Dancing, I wasn’t sure how to tell if something is easy. And sometimes I overestimate my dancing abilities and jump into songs that were harder than I thought. Luckily, one guy would point out or yell the next step to me for some of the songs. And one time, he even gestured at me and other beginners that “this song is easy, come dance!”
This place is not restricted to line dancing, though. Sometimes a couple or two will do a partnered dance.
There are also times when two different choreographies emerge on the dance floor for the same song. Then it looks like a dance battle between the two groups!
In the end, I thought it was hard to do the dancing after lessons without having been here several times to learn multiple songs first. One dancer told me that Line Dancing tends to be regional, so potentially someone who’s done Line Dancing at other places in the area would know some songs already. But with that said, $5 cover for the lessons itself is rather reasonable, and it may be fun to come with friends and grab drinks and chat when not dancing.
Searching online afterwards, I was able to find videos of all three choreography on YouTube. So potentially a choreography may be used at multiple locations so someone traveling or moving to a new location may not need to start from scratch.