A barn dance
is any kind of dance
involving traditional or folk music
with traditional dancing
, occasionally held in a barn
, but, these days, much more likely to be in any suitable building.
The term “barn dance” is usually associated with family-oriented or community-oriented events, usually for people who do not normally dance. The caller
will, therefore, generally use easy dances so that everyone can join in.
A barn dance can be a ceilidh
, with traditional Irish
or Scottish dancing
, and people unfamiliar with either format often confuse the two terms. However, a barn dance can also feature square dancing
, contra dancing
, English country dance
, dancing to country and western
music, or any other kind of dancing, often with a live band and a caller
. Modern western square dance
is often confused with barn dancing in Britain.
Barn dances, as social dances, were popular in Ireland until the 1950s, and were typically danced to tunes with rhythms.
in Chicago is credited with developing the “barn dance” radio format, which was in large part responsible for the advent of country music
in the United States. The National Barn Dance
began as a program of old-time fiddling on April 19, 1924, with George D. Hay
as the show's host and announcer. A year-and-a-half later, Hay moved to Nashville, Tennessee
and brought in an old-time fiddler to launch the WSM Barn Dance
; this show is now known as the Grand Ole Opry
and remains on the air to this day. Dozens of similar programs cropped up on AM radio
stations all across the United States, from New England to Los Angeles, including the WWVA Jamboree
in Wheeling, West Virginia (1933), the Renfro Valley Barn Dance
in Kentucky (1939), the Louisiana Hayride
(1948), [https://web.archive.org/web/20081205120313/http://www.southernspaces.org/contents/2008/hanson/1a.htm the Tennessee Jamboree] (1953) and Ozark Jubilee
(1954). Television adaptations (often under the guise of early variety show
s) were popular in the 1950s and early 1960s but eventually faded out of style.