Buck Dancing and Flat Footing | Appalachian Dancing

by AngelaJohnson

"Buck dancing" and "Flat footing" are solo dances. Even if several people dance together, each one dances according to his own style.

Buck dancing and flat footing are traditional Appalachian dances. People dance in a small area of their own; no one worries about dancing the same steps as everyone else.

Buck dancing is a general name for any type of fast paced solo dance. Buck dancing is similar to tap and clog dancing, but with steps designed to create more sounds per beat.

Flat foot dancing is mostly dancing with the feet close to the floor and without the shoe soles making much noise. The flat foot dancer seems relaxed while he dances, even though his feet are moving quicly. Flat footing is often called buck dancing, too.

Buck dancing and flat footing are also called jigging, hoedown, stepping and clogging, although clogging is not usually a solo dance. People often clog in groups where they dance to the same steps.

Traditional Appalachian dancing is still popular today and danced by people in all areas of the United States.

Where is Appalachia?

Appalachia region

Appalachia (App-a-latch-i-a) is named for the Appalachee Indians.  The Appalachian Mountains begin in Belle Isle in Canada and continue to Cheaha Mountain in Alabama.  

Appalachia is not only a physical region, but also a cultural region, usuallyreferring only to the central and southern portions of the range.

The Southern Appalachians are in eastern Kentucky, southeastern Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Image and Information from Wikipedia

The Appalachian Mountains

View from the slopes of Back Allegheny Mountain, looking east, in the Appalachian Mountains, North America.
Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains

What is Buck Dancing?

buck dancersBuck dancing is freestyle solo dancing. Many of the buck dancer's steps are similar to basic clogging steps, but buck dancers add in more stomps and shuffles in order to make more sounds per beat than in regular clogging.

Irish, Scottish and English immigrants shared their dance steps, which evolved into Appalachian dancing.  Later, Cherokee Indian ceremonial dances and black minstrel shows probably  influenced dancing styles, too.

In buck dancing, steps are danced on the balls of the feet, then the heel clicks on the floor, and back to the ball of the foot. A buck dancer doesn't often wear taps like cloggers do. There aren't many documented buck dancing steps so people learned the dance by watching and imitating.

Buck dancers usually dance alone and in a small area of space. A buck dancer might even bring his own portable dance board. If other dancers join in, each one dances individually to the rhythm of the music without trying to imitate the dance steps of others.

  Photo by Arbogast Inn on flickr creative commons.

Thomas Maupin champion buckdancer

What is Flatfoot Dancing?

dance shoesFlatfoot is a freestyle solo dance where the dancer keeps both feet close to the floor. There aren't many standard steps; each person just dances to the rhythm of the song. Flatfoot dance steps are made by sliding the feet with a shuffling movement. The shoes do not make a loud noise, like in buck dancing and clogging.

The body stays erect but loose, and the arms move only slightly to help with balance. If more than one person wants to dance, they each dance individually, but still to the rhythm of the music.

Flatfoot dancers dance in a small area; some even bringing their own portable dance board. Years ago, houses had small rooms. In order for several people to dance at once, especially in winter when they couldn't go outdoors, dancers had to dance within their own space and without swinging their arms.

You can flatfoot dance on any hard floor, on a porch or deck, or if you have a piece of plywood or your own portable dance board, you can dance anywhere you like.


Photo by EadaoinFlynn on flickr creative commons.

Flatfoot Dancing

Kudzu String Band Buckdance

Most of his dance steps are low to the ground, like flat foot dancing

Documentary Films of Solo Dancing (Buck Dancing) on Amazon

Talking Feet: Solo Southern Dance - F...
$19.98  $12.84
Let Your Feet Do the Talkin'
Only $22.98

Buck Dancing at Summertown Bluegrass Festival

See How People Dance to Their Own Steps?

A Portable Dance Floor

1/2" Interlocking Modular Grid-Loc Tap Dance Tiles (Oak) - 9 Piece Set with Edge Pieces

Our Tap Dance kits are designed for any level of dancer and are perfect when utilized as a lightweight, modular and portable flooring surface. Our Tap Dance kits are very easy t...

$94.99  $73.95

View on Amazon

A Poll - What Type of Dancing Do You Like?

Tap Dance DVDs

I couldn't find any flat foot or buck dance instructional videos
Tap Dance Made Easy - Level 1 - Basic

Special DVD features include: Two camera angles: from the back, as if in a class, and from the side, showing a close-up of the instructor's feet. Subtitle Feature: On-screen dis...

$24.95  $19.95

View on Amazon

Tap Dance Made Easy - Level 2: Intermediate

Only $24.95

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I Hate to Exercise, I Love to Tap - Tap Dance Instruction

f you hate to exercise but want a fun way to stay in shape, then join Bonnie Franklin and begin to tap! In this challenging video for all ages you will learn to tap at your own ...

$19.99  $10.17

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Bloch Women's Tap-Flex Tap Shoe

Bloch S0388 split sole tapflex shoe features a full leather upper, Kashmir lining, attached Bloch Shockwave taps and a hard leather stacked heel.

Only $68.00

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People Just Join in and Start Dancing - to Their Own Style

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Updated: 10/02/2014, AngelaJohnson
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


CountrySunshine on 10/11/2014

I had not heard of either type of dancing, but I believe I've seen both. Enjoyed the article

MBC on 10/05/2014

I love to dance! But I do folk circle dances. Nice article

Mira on 09/22/2014

I really enjoyed this. The article was fun :) and I liked the videos you chose.

Barbara on 09/18/2014

I hadn't realized there was a name for this type of dancing - Clog, of course I knew, but 'Buck' is new to me :)

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