June 1999
In Bruce Bowman & Evelyn Khinoo's Palo Alto, CA class tonight, the beginners learned Cowboy Boogie, the choreographer was "unknown" Today is June 1, 1999 ...I checked my fax machine ...His name is Kenneth Erle Engel (Kentucky Ken) and he wrote the Cowboy Boogie in 1972 -the dance was originally named the Watergate by Ken and along the way the name changed, but the dance steps remained as we do them today.
 
Kenneth Erle Engel (Kentucky Ken) ... His dances have passed the litmus test for success ...20+ years have gone by and we are still learnin' and dancin' his creations. He writes ..."Back in the early seventies and eighties as I am sure you know, new dances were scarce. There were no country magazines yet, no line dance clubs and definitely no web sites to find new dances. So when teaching in a club and and your students want something new because the old dances are becoming boring, you do what I did if you have the talent. You go home, turn on the radio or play a record or an eight track or cassettes when they came out, find a good song and start playing with combinations of steps. You pick a name, write it down and after making untold amounts of changes in the dance, go back to the club your next class night, you announce a new dance, teach it and hope your students like it. No witnesses, no napkins, just a pencil and paper, a sense of rythm and a good imagination. And thats how a dance is created."
 
 
 
 

Kenneth Erle Engel (Kentucky Ken) His Resumé

I hope you will find the information you require on these pages to appreciate the good fortune that has been given to us in the Western Line Dance Community in the "finding" of a true Country Western Icon .... a National Treasure, the Father of Country Western Line Dance Choreography as we know it.

(Kentucky) Ken Engel is the originator of line and partner dances from the eary 70's and 80's which are still done in nightclubs and dance classes across the nation and the world at this time. You can download original signed step sheets by clicking on the dance names.

Ken writes:
I suppose my love for country music came naturally, being born and raised in a small west Texas town called Sweetwater. The only music I listened to was country.
Unfortnately counry dancing actually any type of dancing did not come naturally. I remember the first dance I went to, I was seventeen and everyone was doing the two step and I was a total klutz. In 1962 there were no such animals as country dance instructors to teach me, but luckily there was one brave girl that said come on I'll teach you. I learned and from that moment on nothing could stop me.

1974 found me in Phoenix Arizona I was working as a D.J. doing private parties and part time in between band sets at Mr. Luckys which was a fairly new concept, spinning records on a pair of technic 1200 turn tables. This particular night a friend of the manager was suppose to come in and teach some dancing to the customers, but he didn't show. The manager knew I could dance fairly well and asked me if I would do it. I said okay, but it's going to cost you a couple of shots and dinner he said okay. I downed one shot and he made the announcement I looked at a floor full of people and asked them if they were nervous, they all yelled out yes I replied so am I. I down the second shot and proceeded to teach the Cotton Eye Joe (also known as the bull shit dance), which if I recall correctly was the earliest equivalent of a country line dance.

From that time on I taught dancing at Mr. Luckys until about 1977 when I moved on to Gilleys in South Pasadena Texas. Prior to that at about 1970 I used to notice all those girls dieing to dance and all those guys to chicken to ask or just not knowing how. Then I thought there just has to be something for them to do. Why not dances they could do without a partner. That in turn started my career as a choreographer of line dances. At that time line dances where not popular yet and in a lot of states unheard of.

Some of my favoite tunes back then which had special meanings to me where Bobby Bares, Bombed, Boozed, and Busted which of course was the first song I taught the Texas Freeze to. And another was Waylon Jennings I've Always Been Crazy because it kept me from going insane. I was always told I was a crazy kind of guy. So I guess "I've Always Been Crazy" was my song back then. But as far as all of my favorite tunes,the artists and songs are too numerous to mention. Going back aways any thing by the late great Conway Twitty was always one of my favorites.

I can honestly say the titles and lyrics where not as important to me as the rhythm was. As for dancing, give me a quick up beat Two Step or Western Swing any time. I can give you a few examples of my favorite Two Step and Western Swing songs - Dance With Who Brung You and House Of Blue Lights by Asleep At The Wheel, Guitars and Cadillacs by Dwight Yokam,
Red Necken Love Makin Nights by Conway Twitty, and Long Neck Bottles by Garth Brooks. As far as slow songs are concerned The Keeper Of The Stars by Tracy Byrd, which my lady Chickie and I relate to our first meeting.

I hope I have answered all of your questions and if there is anything else you would like to know please don't hestitate to ask. Of course you may publish our e-mail address we would love to hear from any one wanting to talk with us.
Ken Engel

 

Ken's email is: engel2@cox.net

Doris Volz, January 2007

 

 

 

 

©1999 LineDanceFun doris@linedancefun.com

Tush Push
 
Texas Freeze
 
Flying 8
 
Tulsa Time
 
Four Wheel Drivel
 
The Cowboy Boogie