That hat you wear on the dance floor? You know that doesn’t make you a Cowboy—right? UCWDC rules require men to wear a traditional Cowboy hat, but traditional Cowboys would give us the side eye over the way we treat a tool of their trade.
Cowboy hats easily come in at least a dozen styles depending on where in the world you run your cattle, but the “Cattleman” is the most common style on the Country dance floor, and maybe that’s what makes it traditional. Wearing the hat indoors?—that’s traditional as long as you take it off in the house, at church, or at the table. Otherwise, it’s OK to wear your hat in public buildings. But what about Gunsmoke and Bonanza? Matt Dillon wasn’t a Cowboy—he was an actor, and the hat was part of his costume, so he wore a hat wherever the director said to wear it.
When you take that hat off—Cowboy or not—hang it on a rack or rest it on its crown, never on its brim. Resting a hat on its brim is a good way to get a flat brim, and nobody likes a flat brim.
And, Cowboy or not, keep your hands to your own hat. On or off the head, don’t touch a hat that’s not yours. Never mind that Country dancers are a touchy-feely bunch, don’t touchy-feely my hat.
Something I’ve never seen at a dance event, but is surely mastered by real Cowboys, is the fine art of tipping a hat. When approaching a lady, or when entering a room where ladies are present, a real Cowboy makes hat tipping cool. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of touching the index and middle finger to the brim, or lightly pinching the brim with those same fingers and the thumb. Then, there’s a half tip when the hat comes off the head just enough to show your hat head. For the most significant greetings real Cowboys completely remove their hats so nothing about the hair is left to the imagination. Maybe hat-tipping should be added to the “C” mark we started seeing from judges this year. Tip your hat on the dance floor, or get C-ed.
Now, ladies, if you choose to wear a Cowboy hat as part of your costume, or for any other reason, these rules don’t apply. Never. Follow them if you wish, or live by them if you’re a Cowgirl, but, otherwise, you get a pass, except when it comes to touching my hat. Don’t do that.
Bryce Greene is UCWDC Web Manager and dance professional from Allen, TX. He promises to learn hat-tipping.