The dance steps come in on the lyric, “Did your boots stop workin’?”: Right heel, left heel, right heel, lift and tap the right foot forward then back, pivot turn, and swirl an arm overhead like a lasso. Some online guides will tell you the lasso move is optional, but you will need to do it if you want to perform the line dance just as pop-country star Dasha does on TikTok.

“I really wanted to get people dancing at my shows,” says the 24-year-old singer, who also created the choreography. “I’ve gone out line dancing so many times in Nashville and I see how the culture isn’t as big in my generation. I wanted to bring it back.”

This February, Dasha dropped a TikTok line dance tutorial for her latest single, “Austin.” Users rushed to replicate the dance, helping to propel the song to No. 11 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart. To date, the trending audio has been featured on well over 600,000 TikTok videos, most of which show line dancers heel-clicking and knee-slapping below captions such as “someone take me line dancing asap” and “might be a country fan now.”


Replying to @Chelsy Kearns AUSTIN LINE DANCE TUTORIAL🧡🧡🧡

♬ Austin – Dasha

While honky-tonks and two-stepping have seen a resurgence among younger alt-country fans, line dance seemed like something country fans were eager to leave in the nineties. But dance-heavy TikTok seems poised to revive the once-mocked dance style. In recent months, its algorithms have thumped with fans from Texas to Ireland to Uganda, all boot stomping to Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ‘Em.” Though Beyoncé has released no official line dance for the song, fans have created their own, revealing a community of international line dancers eager to engage with such music. A new country fan—who has never swept around the floor at the White Horse in East Austin beneath a sign that says “absolutely no line dancing”—can join in the pastime that feels like American national heritage.

The definition of a line dance is disarmingly simple: a repeating sequence performed by dancers arranged in—you guessed it!—a line. Everyone does the same steps at the same time, unpartnered, together but not touching. The choreography is attached to a particular track, often country but not always. Line dancing was born on disco dance floors in the seventies (think: the Hustle), influenced by folk dances, contredanse, and square dances from around the globe. Popular early line dances were choreographed to disco hits like Ike & Tina Turner’s “Nutbush City Limits” or Charlie Green’s “Bus Stop.” In the eighties, line dancing went country (along with most of mainstream culture) after the choreographer for Urban Cowboy created dozens of line dances for the Western-hued film.

Line dancing got formally married to country music in 1992 when Billy Ray Cyrus released a music video for “Achy Breaky Heart.” It featured bespoke choreography—grapevine right, grapevine left, step clap, step clap, hip shake, turn—that launched the dance style into mainstream consciousness. The novelty dance was a marketing ploy to sell the song, but it didn’t just catapult Cyrus to the top of the charts—it also sparked a national mania for country line dancing.

The 1996 Spanish dance song “Macarena” was a perfection of the line dance form. With easily remembered choreography and a club-friendly Bayside Boys remix, it achieved a sort of pre-Internet virality. That year, in a distillation of the line dance’s social appeal, everyone from the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Olympic team to delegates at the Democratic National Convention did the Macarena. It turns out that humans are social creatures who just like syncing up with other humans: Even after the cowboy moment of the nineties faded, line dancing lived on, sans twang, in fitness classes and contemporary hits like “Cha Cha Slide” and “Cupid Shuffle.”

Dance videos have long been among the most popular forms of content on TikTok. The choreography for dance challenges has typically been community-created, much like early line dances. And, similar to line dances, the steps are accessible for dancers of all levels and satisfying to re-create. 

So is a TikTok dance a line dance? The answer is surprisingly nebulous. A recent Spotify playlist called “Line Dance” catalogs fifty songs, including “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins and “Slave 4 U” by Britney Spears, which have reentered the zeitgeist as the old choreography has gone viral on TikTok.

“Intention is important,” says Austin-based filmmaker and dancer Maggie M. Bailey, who directed the 2022 documentary Moving Together about the collaborative relationship between musicians and dancers. “Where did the movement originate? ‘Slave 4 U’ was choreography that made its way onto TikTok and its original intention was in art making . . . but TikTok dances are made to go viral, which feels like less of an artistic intention to me.”

In recent years, TikTok has become a key part of pop music marketing. Songs that can be easily sliced up to soundtrack user-created video clips perform well on the app, and thus on the charts. Some contemporary artists admit to writing songs designed to inspire a viral moment. But the content itself, like the choreography for dance challenges, has generally filtered up from users, rather than originating with the artists themselves.

Last year, musician and actress Lola Kirke reformatted an older music video into a social media line dance tutorial to promote “He Says Y’All,” the lead single for her EP Country Curious. The original music video, released in 2020 for a different song called “Win It,” features a spoken intro as Kirke demonstrates classic country line dance footwork, including a knee slap, three-point turn, and peppy little spin called a hiccup. Ultimately, it is a traditional music video: three minutes and 55 seconds in a 16:9 aspect ratio, available on YouTube. After a few sequences of instructional choreography in a kitschy, staged honky-tonk, Kirke falls through the floor into a glittering and crowded dance hall where the line dance is popular, glamorous, and modern. Kirke belongs to a line dance community in New York and, for a moment, we get to see it. Here, the country line dance is back.

But this plot twist got lost when Kirke rereleased the tutorial portion of the video as a 37-second vertical aspect ratio clip on TikTok. The New York-based pop singer writes country-ish music inflected with nostalgia and irony, and the line dance seems to be more Western set dressing, like Kirke’s tucked-in pearl-snap shirt. The result, to my eyes, is dance performance, more interested in selling a vibe than getting viewers dancing. It never quite manages to make contact with the dance challenge videos that are just a few swipes over.

Dasha, in contrast, effortlessly speaks the casual aesthetic language of TikTok. When she demonstrates wall changes, the directional turns that rotate a dancer 90 or 180 degrees between sequences, she steps and spins in sweatpants tucked into cowboy boots. In her instructional clip, line dancing looks less like a Western relic and more like a natural extension of the arm-swinging, hip-rolling dances that have captivated TikTok for years. Users familiar with the rhythms of TikTok recognize this as an invitation to join in and re-create the dance.

“When I wrote [‘Austin’], everyone in the room was dancing to it. It was just such a dance-forward song,” says Dasha. “I thought it would be the coolest thing ever to have a big mosh pit of people line dancing at my shows.”

There is a more traditional music video for “Austin,” too. In it, Dasha follows an unfaithful lover, chasing him through a barn of dancers performing her choreography. She weaves past pivot turns and lassoing arms to catch him by the back of the shirt. The video includes no official tutorial; it doesn’t need to. Hundreds of thousands of fans already know the steps.