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Do You Schottische or Do You Schodish?

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Do you know how to schottische? Or perhaps you know it as schodish?  The schottische is a partnered dance, thought to have originated in Scotland, Bohemia, or Poland; it is a basic step made up of two sidesteps to the left and right, followed by a turn in four steps. In some areas, the sidesteps and turn are replaced by Strathspey hopping steps. Schottisches are danced differently in Europe than how they are danced in the United States. The European, or Continental version (often called “skoteesh”) is typically danced to faster music with more restrained movements. The American version is often larger and more open, with the first part executed equally as promenades, individual or led twirls or similar moves, and the second part typically expressed as a close pivot. The ending often comes with a chug, which is similar to a hop. For example, to chug with right foot means the right leg is in the air bent at knee and a hop is done on your left leg.

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Likely brought to Texas and northern Mexico in the mid-1800’s, the schottische was adapted to accordion-heavy Conjunto style in the early 20th century, and by the mid-twentieth century, to country music bands with an accompaniment of fiddles and steel guitars. Variations exist the world over. Texas alone has at least seven varieties. Texas Schottische for Three was created during World War II, partly to compensate for the man shortage during the war. Singer and musician Johnny Horton (1925 – 1960) sang about dancing the Schottische in Texas:

Schottische in Texas when the cactus were in bloom,

You’ll be the bride and I’ll be the groom.

You’re on the right side and I’m on the left,

Don’t ever go anywhere else by my-self.

The long history of the dance are evident in local government; there are city streets in Texas named after it! So get to your nearest Dancehall or wedding reception and chug away some Texas tradition!


“Dance Across Texas” by Betty Casey

“Dance a While: A Handbook for Folk, Square, Contra and Social Dance” by Anne M. Pittman, Marlys S. Waller, Cathy L. Dark.

“The History of Texas Music” by Gary Hartman