Line dancing is gaining popularity in Darwin with a new generation of dancers

It’s a dance commonly associated with cowboy boots and country towns, but the age-old pastime is starting to find its way into the hearts of even the most hardened city slickers.

In Darwin, the Top End Mustangs have been dancing around the Northern Territory for more than 20 years, and the group’s secretary Carol Penglase said it was growing in popularity.

“There are around three to four clubs here and the dancers mix between clubs,” she said.

Line dancing is growing in popularity in the Top End. ,ABC Capricornia: Michelle Gately,

This month, they partnered with best friends Claire Harris and Kate Strong, who’ve quit their jobs to line dance across the country and raise money for rural and regional charities.

“We’ve got one different charity for each state that we’re going through and they’re all rural focused or help rural people, but they’re all a little bit different,” Ms Harris said.

The pair have traveled around Queensland and through parts of South Australia, before zipping up the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs to Darwin, stopping in at iconic Territory landmarks along the way.

“It’s just so much fun and we’re getting to meet incredible people,” Ms Strong said.

Two women sit on a large fallen tree trunk, back to back.  They're smiling at the camera
Kate Strong and Claire Harris are touring several sites in the territory to promote line dancing. ,Supplied: Jackson Madders,

‘You can take it as far as you want’

Line dancing consists of basic moves that can be mixed and matched to create different dance routines.

“You have grapevines and rocking chairs and your toe heel stomps and those sort of things,” Ms Strong said.

“You have all of your basic moves and you can put them all in a different sequence or in a different speed, there’s so much variety in all of them.”

Ms Strong said the flexibility of line dancing makes it accessible for dancers of all abilities.

“It can be as easy or as hard as you would like it to be,” she said.

“You don’t have to have any previous training or dancing experience because it’s one that’s easy to get involved in and you can take it as far as you want.”

A group of people line dancing in an outdoor area alongside a river, at sunset.
The Top End Mustangs are just one of four different line dancing clubs in Darwin. ,ABC News: Jessica Rendall,

Ms Strong and Ms Harris want to break the demographic stereotypes associated with line dancing and get more young people involved.

Ms Strong said she hoped their road trip would help get more young people onto the dance floor.

“Most of the line dancing groups that are currently around are older ladies that are typically retired,” she said.

“We’re really wanting to break that and share the love of line dancing for all, because everyone can get involved and have absolutely the best time with it.”

A group of people line dancing in an outdoors area at dusk, with a young woman wearing a T-shirt and denim shorts in the front.
Darwin line dancers turned out in force to a hoedown co-led by Claire Harris at the Stokes Hill Wharf.,ABC News: Jessica Rendall,

Carol Penglase from the Top End Mustangs said the benefits of line dancing were endless.

,[It’s good] for your physical fitness, for your health and wellbeing, for that socializing and community aspect,” she said.

For older dancers who may be experiencing dementia, she said line dancing could help them exercise their memories.

“We have quite a few dancers who’ve been dancing for 20 years,” she said.

Two women in blue shirts sit on the tailgate of a four wheel drive, the door is open and the car is full of boxes.
Claire Harris and Kate Strong are driving around Australia teaching line dancing classes to raise money for rural charities. ,Supplied: Mary Biles,

Ms Harris and Ms Strong were drawn to line dancing because of its versatility, surprised by how perfectly the routines fit to a wide genre of music.

“There are 128,000 types of line dances,” Ms Strong said.

“And every dance varies so much.”

Ms Penglase from the Top End Mustangs said people might associate line dancing with just country music, but the routines can be performed to pop and even rock and roll.

“We’re not all country, the genres are mixed right across and it draws different people in because they go ‘ooh I like that song’.”

She said the pair’s road trip was great way to raise the profile of line dancing across the country and to young people.

“We’re very humbled to Claire and Kate for asking us to be part of it.”

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