Everyone is welcome to join the crowd on Friday evenings, four times each summer, for the annual Friday Night Street Dances on Main Street in Historic Downtown Waynesville. Enjoy the area's finest bluegrass musicians, bands, and clogging teams. It's where the travelers get to interact with the locals! The dance always starts with a circle – joining of hands is the symbol of community. The first movement of the Appalachian American big round dance is the Grand Right and Left. The dancers turn and greet their partners with a "How do you do?" and "Fine, thank you," and the circle continues. Main Street in front of the historic Haywood County Courthouse is closed and sprinkled with cornmeal to facilitate the shuffling movement of dancing feet. Bleachers are available but you might want to bring a chair or blanket. At the caller's first yell, the asphalt becomes crowded with many dancers as they kick it up to the mountain music. You will be invited to participate.
The late evening dance has been going on for nearly a century. In the 1930s Haywood County resident Sam Queen, known as "the dancingest man in the land" organized the Soco Gap Dance Team, which was among the very first practiced mountain square dance and clogging demonstration teams in the country. Today his grandson, Joe Sam Queen, carries on the tradition. Doug Trantham and his family perform and assist with the evening’s performances every Friday night. The Trantham's have a musical legacy in these mountains as well and have raised their kids and grandkids on the stages in Downtown Waynesville.
Dances are held Friday evenings, 6:30–9:00 pm, in front of the historic Haywood County Courthouse. The Main Street area, immediately in front of the courthouse, is closed to traffic and parking at 5:00 pm. Instead of the usual cars‚ attendees will find a stage, bleachers, and asphalt covered with a thick dusting of corn meal to create a dance area. Bring a lawn chair or blanket, limited bleacher seating is available. Bring your dancin' shoes but please leave pets at home as they are not allowed by Town ordinance. Light refreshments are available at the venue for purchase and downtown restaurants are open for dinner.
Lively instructions are given by master of ceremonies and dance caller, Joe Sam Queen, who throughout the evening, teaches audience members some basic square dancing in the traditional Appalachian style. Each night features a bluegrass band, performances by a local clogging team, and intermission entertainment. Waynesville's mountain street dances are featured in the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina guidebook, a project of the NC Arts Council and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.