Yee-Ha! Get in line and dance

Line dancing instructor Tanya Quinn demonstrates some basic moves.
(From left) Ms Maria Oh, 68, Ms Irene Goh, 67, and Ms Peggy Toh, 74, have signed up for the Yee-Ha! Singapore - Country Line Dance Festival 2017.
(From left) Ms Maria Oh, 68, Ms Irene Goh, 67, and Ms Peggy Toh, 74, have signed up for the Yee-Ha! Singapore - Country Line Dance Festival 2017.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The Yee-Ha! Singapore - Country Line Dance Festival is geared specially to country-music lovers

When it comes to line dancing, nothing beats stomping on a hardwood floor to classic country ditties that most millennials would probably have never heard of, quips retiree Irene Goh.

"We love dancing to older country songs. No hip-hop or techno line dancing for me, please," the 67-year-old says firmly.

A new two-day country line dancing event happening next Friday at Far East Square and Saturday at Goodman Arts Centre, is right up Ms Goh's alley.

The Yee-Ha! Singapore - Country Line Dance Festival 2017 is a celebration of country music and line dancing, says seasoned local singer Mel Ferdinands, who co-organised the festival alongside events company Ascent Group Singapore.

Four bands - veteran homegrown country quartets Matthew And The Mandarins and Leonard And The Country Riders; countryrock band S.A.L.T; and Ferdinands alongside Indonesian crooner Rani Tofani as part of Project Indopura - will be on stage across the two days, performing only classic country linedancing tracks.

Hip-hop, techno, salsa or pop beats will have no place at this line- dancing event, as it is one for diehard country fans.

  • BOOK IT / YEE-HA! SINGAPORE - COUNTRY LINE DANCE FESTIVAL 2017

    WHERE/WHEN: The Pavilion, Far East Square, 28 China Street, next Friday, 6 to 10pm, and at the Amphitheatre, Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Road, next Saturday, 3 to 10pm

    ADMISSION: $40 next Friday and $50 next Saturday, $80 for both days. All tickets include one free drink

    INFO: www.ascentgroup.sg/yeehasingapore2017

"There is a big following for both country music and line dancing, but not enough platforms and events to listen to good country musicians, and not many opportunities for country line dancers to get dressed up in their country outfits," says Ferdinands.

The first day of the festival will be a fuss-free affair for country line dancers to shimmy together in a line and network, while curious newbies are encouraged to come by on the second day and learn what a "grapevine" step is from experienced dancers or freelance line dance instructor Tanya Quinn, 33.

"There are a lot of different types of steps in line dancing but, usually, only a couple are repeated in a sequence. It's not as complicated as people think," she says.

Long-time line dancer Maria Oh, 68, concurs and adds that once you know the steps, it is just about memorising the particular sequence for a song. "Age is catching up with me and attending line-dance jams like these help to keep my mind active," the retiree adds.

She recalls fondly tuning in to veteran radio DJ Brian Richmond's popular country segment, Let's Go Country, which has since been stopped.

"I love the oldies by singers like Jim Reeves and John Denver. They hardly ever play such songs on the radio nowadays," she says.

Her friend, retiree Peggy Toh, 74, adds that they are more comfortable line dancing to country tracks as that was the music they learnt the sequences to.

So far, the organisers say, close to 200 people have signed up for the festival, including about 30 line dancers from Indonesia.

Western fare will be on sale to feed hungry festivalgoers and there will be country-style games, such as Lasso The Bottle, on the second day.

Ferdinands says the organisers hope to make Yee-Ha! Singapore - Country Line Dance Festival an annual affair.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Yee-Ha! Get in line and dance'. Print Edition | Subscribe