The Barn Dance was originated in Scotland in the 1860's. The barn dance was also known as the "Pas de Quartre" which basically was a generic term for American Folk dancing in rural communities or the "poor people's ballroom" of the times. It has been said to have first reared its head at the Gaiety Theater when Meyer Lutz composed the tune "Pas de Quatre."
These parties were usually thrown after the raising of a barn or would be given as a birthday party, homecoming, or wedding etc. These dances were to merge with Square Dancing in the United States.
Barn dances were very popular up until about 1899 as farmers and common folk would usually not be invited to the fancier balls of the upper class. A typical occasion for a barn dance was a post "Barn Rasin' party" to celebrate the raising of a neighbors Barn. Barn dances were sometimes referred to as a "General Ruckus or Ruckus". In the 1930's, Radio stations such as the WLS National Barn Dance Radio Show, would broadcast many Country and Western songs as well as featuring many Country artists of the day which would
add the main link to combine Country music, Barn dancing and Square dances together.
Barn dances consisted of Waltzes, Virginia Reels, Reels, Buck dancing and Breakdowns, Corn Husking Dances, Jigs, Buck, Schottische, Quadrilles, dancing etc. Henry Ford (the Auto maker) was very fond of these and Square dances. When the media got involved in the early 1920's (radio and Film), many times the Barn / Square dance scene would be dumbed down to a backwoods stereo typing, etc. Many times your "Abner, Jethro, Homer, and Elmer" (not the musicians) and were portrayed with a straw hat, corn Cobb pipe, raggedy clothes (like worn out overalls with one strap dangling off the shoulder) and shoes with worn out soles and appeared to have a third grade education, but many times it was far from the truth. Barn and square dances consist of fine, educated people who are just down to earth, family oriented and often types very religious.
However back in the day many of these people did come from the back woods and deeps hills, bringing with them an almost forgotten style of Music, Dance and culture. Some of these folks were so far back the nearest school was over 50 miles away and they only had a mule to ride. Thankfully the entertainment industry went lookin' for them and thank god they found them, cause if they hadn't, alot of this music, dance and culture would be only a myth. Here is a good example ... Uncle John Wilder, a fiddler, was already 80 Years old in 1926 ... (Clip).
... more TO come... See Square Dance for additional info