Dancing Outlaws

Dancing! Oh yes! I love it! I put dancing throughout my Outlaw Mail Order Brides series and it’s all the real-life outlaw gunslinger Clay Allison’s fault! They say he suffered a head wound during the Civil War and it left him with a terrible temper. Maybe so. His epitaph reads that he didn’t kill anyone that didn’t need it and it is a well-known fact that he put a lot of men six feet under.

But strangely, Clay loved to dance—a lot. He owned a ranch outside of Cimarron, New Mexico and always kept a violin player on his payroll.

I first put Clay Allison in The Heart of a Texas Cowboy as Houston Legend’s drover and my editor liked him so much she wanted me to give him his own book. I thought it best to make him fictional so I changed his last name to Colby. Book #1 of Outlaw Mail Order Brides—The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride—is about Clay Colby.

Clay and some of his friends are tired of running and want to settle down so they decide to carve a town from their hideout. Next came populating it so they send for mail order brides.

Since Clay has been writing a wanted woman in hiding, Tally Shannon, he asks her to marry him so she travels to Hope’s Crossing. She agrees.

Oddly, Clay makes sure one his fellow outlaws is a fiddle player and they have a dance each night after supper, waltzing over the uneven ground under the stars. And that’s how he and Tally get acquainted. It worked.

My town has the dancing-est outlaws you ever met. It keeps ’em out of trouble. (Psst, not really)

I’ve always loved to watch dancers, but I didn’t know how until around the age of 30. I was married and three kids underfoot when I took classes at the local college for ballroom dancing. I learned the foxtrot, tango, the waltz, and then the teacher threw in the two-step.

It opened up a whole new world and I loved it. The only problem was my husband didn’t dance and had no desire at all to learn so I was forced again to sit on the sidelines.

Occasionally one of male customers would ask me, but then we stopped going to those places altogether, and sadly, I lost what I’d learned.

I still love to watch dancing couples though. And I love the show Dancing With the Stars, living vicariously through them. Sometimes, I even get out of my chair and do the steps. You’d die laughing.

Dancing has been in our culture probably since the beginning of time. The earliest proof was found in 9,000 year old cave drawings. I’m astounded.

Some of the dances had such names as the Quadrille, the Minuet, the Polka, the Waltz, and many others. Rock and Roll brought many, many more dances like the Lindy Hop, the Twist, the Jitterbug, etc. This didn’t involve a partner so I jumped right in and loved twisting and gyrating and making a fool of myself.

Tell me the first person you ever danced with and the type of dance it was. I’m giving away The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride to three people who leave a comment.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
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73 thoughts on “Dancing Outlaws”

    • Good morning, Vicki! It’s great to see you. Sounds like you had a blast with Manuel. Those memories of fun times can lift you up when you’re down. Have a beautiful day filled with the goodness of all life brings.

      • The first person I ever danced with was my sister! My uncle filmed us doing The Twist together when I was about 7 and she was 6. We learned it watching American Band Stand and it was hilarious!. It is still about the only dance I know how to do. My sister and I are 15 months apart and “thick as thieves” as the old saying goes.???

    • I enjoyed dancing when I was younger, taking ballet as a child. My dad taught me how to dance with a partner when I got a bit older, but the young men in my area were hopelessly left-footed which made dancing less pleasurable. But I still enjoy watching occasionally.

      • Good morning, Jess! I’m happy to see you. Ballet is a great way to learn balance, poise, and gracefulness. Yep, I can picture you and your dad. I’m just a watcher now too. I hope you’re feeling great and getting ready for that little one. Maybe doing some writing. I loved your Christmas book! You have a beautiful writing voice.

    • Good morning, Denise! Thanks for coming. High school days are filled with lots of memories. That school dance must’ve been fun. Glad you and Tom are still friends. Wonderful! Wishing you a blessed day! Hope you’re still dancing.

    • Ok I just membered it wasn’t Doug…id his first name atm…just last name which is Kotter. Maybe his name will come to me later

      • Good morning, Sabrina! Wow, a salsa! That’s a spicy dance. I love watching people do that one. Kotter was probably either real good or real bad. Ha! Thanks for coming today. Keep dancing! Wishing you lots of laughter and love. 🙂

        • Thank YOU! His name is Shane….lol I’m old with not a good memory so ya know I get names confused…lol esp since i was about 12 when I did this…hahah

  1. Good morning Linda- I grew up dancing, my brother and I both. My 1st dance was with my Dad. We were a great team, most of the time I would look up dancing with him and we would have an audience, just captivated by our dancing. A little girl dancing so fluently with her dad. My brother and mom were the same. I love dancing.
    Clay and Tally both stole my heart. I love that you have dancing In Your books, it’s such a time honored ritual. I hope you have a super fantastic week. Love you my sweet sister friend.

    • Good morning, Miss Tonya! Always such joy to see you. How wonderful that you danced with your dad. You two must’ve been amazing together. Your parents were exceptional people to have dancing in their hearts like that. Some are born with the need to move inside them. It’s great that they taught you and Trophy. Well, I knew when I molded Clay Colby from Clay Allison that dancing would be an obsession and it was fun writing about that. It was so unusual for an outlaw to love dancing so much. I always thought they so odd about Clay Allison. I think he must’ve fought a lot of demons and music and dancing must’ve soothed that turmoil inside. And I think deep down he was a nice guy. He was never convicted of killing anyone. The judge ruled them all justified. A lot of bad people hung around Cimarron. I hope your day is filled with beauty and love, sister friend.

  2. At my Surprise Sweet Sixteen birthday party I learned a 4 square and a two step with my steady boyfriend whom I later married, divorced and remarried and again divorced. We did not dance much at all.

    • Good morning, Miss Jerri! Wow, this is a pleasure. Sixteen is a good age to learn to dance. Sounds like you should’ve had a lot more dancing in your marriage. 🙂 🙂 Love you, lady! Have a beautiful day.

    • Good morning, Miss Kim! I’m so happy to see you. Thanks for coming. I’ll bet you and Bobby had a fun time dancing. I hope you haven’t stopped no matter what partner you have. Wishing you a fun day filled with life’s goodness.

  3. My brother we used to watch American Bandstand on Saturday Mornings and we would try to dance some of those moves they were doing on there. I couldn’t tell you any particular dance but I do fondly remember him spinning me around under his arm you know the particular move that’s in one of those dances you mention. Thanks for that pleasant memory from my childhood. Hope you have a blessed and happy day my dear sweet friend Linda Love and Hugs to you!!

    • Good morning, Miss Glenda! I’m smiling. I can picture you and your brother doing those intricate dance steps. Wow! I used to love the episodes I got to see of American Bandstand. That was such a good show with the music and dancing. I’m glad you have those memories. Yes, I can see it. 🙂 I hope you’re on the mend from your latest hip surgery and feeling much better. Love you dearly.

    • Good morning, Miss Charlene! I’m so glad you came. That’s such a sweet picture of you standing on your daddy’s toes. Melts my heart. What a memory. Have a blessed day, dear friend.

    • Good morning, Debra! Thanks for coming. Oooohhh, slow dances are the best. I think all of us have the urge to move inside us in varying degrees. I hope you’re still dancing. It just makes us feel so good. I love to two-step around my house. Have a beautiful day, dear heart.

  4. Good morning Linda , I love this morning’s blog. I didn’t even get to dance till I was in my twenties, my uncle believed it was the devil’s music . Finally after I was older I loved anything fast, much like you I didn’t have a partner that like to dance. A few years ago I started taking line dance classes, I did ok but my feet didn’t get the idea. I still have trouble two step or anything with a partner as I never had dancing partner. I love country music and I’m determined to learn it soon as classes can ever resume again!!!

    • Good morning, Rose Ann! We can’t let not having a partner stop us. We need to feed that mysterious urge inside us to dance in whatever way we can. Sorry about your uncle. Some people try to shame us for this bit of harmless fun and it makes me mad. Good for you for not giving up! Take those classes and do what makes you happy. I have a friend who goes on regular cruises just for the dancing partners she finds there. She loves to dance and is quite good. Dancing makes us feel so alive. Never stop! Love you dearly.

    • Good morning, Cathy! I’ve always admired those line dancers. Wow, such interesting steps and whirls. Love watching them. And it doesn’t matter if you mess up. It’s just looks really fun and I wish I went to a place where they have that. Good for you! Keep it up and never let dancing die inside you. Have a beautiful day!

  5. Good morning MS. Linda! I too love to watch people dance and love Dancing with the Stars! I can’t remember the first person i danced with, great question! I’m sure it would have been as a toddler but I’m not sure if my first dance was with my Daddy or one of my brothers. I betting since I’m next to the youngest of six, four sisters, I’m betting it was a brother. I love this series and loved Clay!

    • Good morning, Steph! I’m so happy to see you. Dancing With the Stars is a phenomenal show. Those dancers make me want to get up and dance in my living room. It’s hard to sit still. How wonderful that you grew up in a dancing family! Wish I had but my parents didn’t have any desire to do that. Now my aunt that I was very close to married a fiddle player and they were always at dances. I often wondered what that must’ve been like to be around music and dancing all the time. Thank you for liking my outlaw mail order bride series. I’m having the most wonderful time writing about these men and women. In the upcoming release of Once Upon a Mail Order Bride, Ridge pretends he can’t dance just to make his new wife feel comfortable. Hope you like it. Have a day filled with love and God’s blessings!

  6. I never learned to dance so I have no dancing stories to talk about. I was not allowed to go to proms or anything put on by the schools because my parents couldn’t afford to buy the dresses or buy tickets. When I used to go to clubs with my friends, I always expected to be the one who sat at the table and watched my friend’s drinks and purses while they danced.

    • Good morning, Janine! I’m so sorry you never got to dance. Repressed desires are very hard to live with. But maybe it’s not too late. People of all ages take dancing lessons. Maybe you should step out of your ordinary life and do something fun. Sending you love and God’s blessings.

    • Good morning, Estella! Thank you for coming. I hope you had a good time dancing with that stranger. There’s something exciting…and scary…to dance with a stranger. You have a hopefully fun memory to savor. Blessing and love to you!

  7. Danny was his name and it was at a teenage party. Not sure what kind of dance it was. I was like 13 and was very fond of Danny. I know we did waltz some. You know teenagers back this just jumped around a lot. I never really learn to dance.

    • Good morning, Quilt Lady! Young love is exciting. I wonder if Danny savors those memories like you do. Bet so. It’s things like this that taught us how to deal with the world and form relationships. Maybe you taught Danny something about how to treat a lady. Yes, I remember how kids used to hop around and sling their arms. Too funny! 🙂 Have a beautiful day!

  8. In fifth grade I had a square dancing partner named Terry. How unromantic … but fun! Fun blog Linda.

    • Dearest Kathy! Great to see you. Sounds like 5th grade Terry wasn’t the best partner. But then you almost had to beat a boy with a stick back then to get him to dance. Maybe the teacher threatened to flunk him. Ha! I hope you and the mister have danced some. 🙂 Wishing you a day filled with love and God’s blessings!

  9. His name was Trey jr high bf school dance to a slow song turn around. We have remained friends all these years, but to this day when I hear that song the memories flood back. I love to dance being a single mom I turn up the music and my kids and I would dance around the house. We each pick songs so be random what we did. Thanks for this wonderful blog.

    • Hi Kristi, thanks for liking my blog. Glad I could bring back memories. Slow dancing with Trey must’ve thrilled your teenage heart. Love his name. I think it’s very special that you dance around your house with your children. You’re creating fond memories for them. You’re an amazing mom! Have a blessed day.

  10. LOL this question made me think, and honestly I can’t remember who but was probably a family member, like my brother!

    • Hi Teresa…Thanks for coming. Brothers are often the ones who teach us how to do these things. Correction, we rope them into it. My brother is 7 years older and was in the Army by the time I got old enough so I didn’t have get his help. I hope you have a fabulous day, Miss Teresa!

  11. Linda, what a great blog. I can’t remember the first boy I danced with but am certain it was one of two places, likely at the YMCA. They hosted a Saturday night dance and Cal Farley’s Boy’s Ranch brought in a bus of boys each week. Then we’d have dances out there at the ranch from time to time. I had a lot of fun dances and dancers back in those days. Dated a lot of them, if you call dancing dating because in “them” days I couldn’t do a car date until I was 25, I think! LOL Great blog and thank you for kicking of Boot Scootin’ Bogie special week for us. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Phyliss! Glad you came over. Your growing up were the kind I wanted. That must’ve been so much fun to dance at the YMCA with all the boys! I snuck out for a car date when I was nineteen to see the Bonnie and Clyde movie at the drive-in theater. Crawled out my window and jumped in his car. His name was Earnest. He was the first boy I ever kissed and had to fight off. I was scared to death. I never did it again. I’m happy that could kick off this fun week. Loving it! Hugs and waves. Hope I get to see you soon.

  12. I have no earthly idea! Probably one of my sisters or my mom. Maybe my Daddy, but I honestly don’t know! I like to watch others dance, though!

    • Hey, Miss Trudy! Thanks for coming. Well, you can join me on the sidelines and we can both watch (and wish) together. Have a wonderful day full of God’s blessings.

    • Hi Miss Tonya Cherry! Wow, how nice to see you! Glad you could come. Your daddy sounds like a wonderful man. What a special memory to cherish. I hope you have a blessed day filled with love.

  13. Oh man, I’m not sure who the first man was that I danced with. But I do know before my hubby and I actually started dating that we attended line dancing classes every week with my cousin. That is probably how our courtship started. We kept up line dancing for years but then when kids came we didn’t have much time left for that. I miss it! Now days it is dancing in the kitchen with the kids and having family fun.

    • Hi Susan! I’m happy to see you. 🙂 I’m so envious! I always wanted to line dance but wasn’t brave enough to try. I don’t remember any classes in the town where I lived so I just watched and dreamed. Dancing with the kids is very fun. I hope you keep it up. Blessings and love.

  14. I remember going to my 6th grade dance, but do not recall really dancing… just shaken my hips, LOL…

    • Hi Laura! I’m so glad you came. Your story made me laugh. I can only imagine what your date looked like. Oh my gosh! How funny. I bet he thought he was really quite something. Too funny.

    • Hi Shanna, I don’t know what it is with men. Getting them to dance is like pulling teeth. I guess something in their DNA. But I think men who dance are really sexy. Thanks for your comment, sweet lady.

  15. When I was in elementary school, I took dancing, and they offered ballroom dancing one year when I was about 10 or so. All the parents thought that was a wonderful idea–because who wouldn’t want their 10 year old to learn how to foxtrot, right? So…can you just picture what happened when we got up on stage to actually DANCE with BOYS in front of an audience??? Well, I made a total idiot of myself, laughing and being goofy to try and impress the guy I was dancing with, and evidently I was not the only one. I don’t think they did those classes anymore after that year. And my parents were NOT happy with me at all. And of course we had to do those “folk dances” in PE in grade school–square dancing and the Virginia Reel, and all those, which I loved.

    Probably my first grown-up dance was with my prom date. I was asked to the prom by a guy a couple of years older than me and I was sooo excited. He was my first serious “love” and my first real dance. I loved your blog. I had read that about Clay Allison’s temper before but didn’t know they blamed it on a war injury. Very interesting stuff! XOXO

    • Hi Cheryl, I think we all acted pretty goofy in those years when we were trying to figure out the world. Those classes were really good in that they prepared you for situations where dancing was called for. I think all kids should learn but how do you get boys to participate short of threatening them with bodily harm. LOL! I’m so happy your prom turned out. I’m sure you were so excited.

      Yes, I think Clay Allison would’ve turned out far different if he hadn’t gotten that head injury. He wasn’t a mean guy by all accounts. I’m glad you found my post interesting. Love you, girl!

  16. Bobby was the first boy that I danced with and we were at a classmate’s birthday party. It was a slow dance and a very awkward dance, I must admit! I’ve danced with several people during my life but my last dance was with my husband and I hope we will have many more!

    • Hi Miss Connie! Thank you for your comment. I wonder if Bobby found the dance as awkward as you did. Maybe he had a crush on you and you filled his dreams for a while. I hope you will continue to dance with your husband and find love everlasting.

  17. Hi, I too love to dance but my husband has no interest in dancing, he plays the saxophone, flute and the clarinet. I have loved to dance since I was young. I too love to watch couples dancing especially if they are great dancers and there are a lot of them out there. Sometimes I will have music on and I will dance by myself or I will tell our pup, lets’ dance and I will dance with him for a little bit. I love cumbias . Your book sounds like a great read and I love the cover, it is Beautiful! Sometimes when I am listening to music I will grab my husbands hand , and he will kind of move, but there is no rhythm to his moving, He plays his instruments very well though, so I will just keep on dancing by myself or with our pup, which is fine. The first dance I danced was with my dad, and it was when I turned 15, my parents made me a birthday party. My dance was a very good dancer, and actually when my dad and my mom were young, they won a dance contest dancing to the song Jambalaya , I think that was pretty awesome! Actually when I was young and at home I would clean house listening to music and dancing with the broom or by myself . 🙂

    • Dearest Alicia! Yes, our brooms and doggies get a workout. It’s better than nothing. Your husband sounds like quite a musician. Wow! And your parents winning dance contests is pretty darn awesome. Thank you for liking the cover of The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride. I think it’s pretty too.

  18. I love dancing, but don’t get to do it much. My dad taught me to waltz, so he would be the first I danced with. A classmate, Jerry, took me to the prom 2 years. I would dance to music in my room, from the Beatles to Scheherazade. My husband took ballroom dance lessons in high school, but we can’t seem to dance together. I think I may be guilty of trying to lead. At our oldest daughter’s wedding, we were dancing and all of a sudden it was working. We were both amazed, but haven’t been able to repeat it since. When I was in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, there were many town functions that required dancing. I was actually part of the teachers’ folk dance troop and wasn’t too bad if I do say so myself. Many of the men over there are great dancers. I danced with several of them and we were literally swirling around the dance floor like Fred and Ginger. It was such a wonderful feeling. Now I have no balance and am not sure how much dancing I can do anymore. Kind of hard to dance with a cane. We did some Scottish folk dancing at a Highland Games a few years ago and it was great fun.

    Stay safe and away from all the sickness in Texas. Don’t want anything to happen to you.

    • Hi Miss Pat! You have lived such a full life. I’m quite envious. A lot of foreign men like to dance and I don’t know why. Maybe they learn early and it just sticks. Those dances in the Philippines must’ve been something. Wow! I’m sorry about hubby but you did it that once and had a great time. Your daughter must’ve been so happy to her parents dancing. Don’t worry about me. I’m staying away from everybody. A lot of people don’t have a lick of sense. I wear my mask and play it safe. Love you dearly, Pat.

  19. About 30+ years ago, I received information and a request from a woman who claimed one side of her family was related to the Allison’s. I was then, and still serve as an archeological steward under the Texas Historical Commission. She asked that I meet her at a location in north central Texas that had belonged to the Allison side of the family. The Allison gang and Jesse James had supposedly sought that location where there was a cave they could hide in. The entire time spent with her was quite interesting. She had done all the genealogy in the family. Had many stories of the outlaws and the Allison family. We were not able to get to the cave where the outlaws had supposedly etched their names in the rock walls because of high waters in the creek. She claimed to have been in that cave several times as a child. We were to meet again for the trek to the cave, but after a few follow up phone conversations, she just disappeared. She lived in southwestern New Mexico where she claims some of the Allison family settled. She also told me that in the early 50s, when she was around 6 or 7 that she attended a funeral of an Allison family member with her parents. She says that a elderly man raved about how pretty she was and talked to her, held her in his lap and that afterwards she was told it was Jesse James! It was all quite bizarre. I have no idea whether any of it was true or not. I don’t believe the James story, but the rest of it pertaining to the Allison’s ………. One of those experiences that leaves one wondering what that was all about! And, yet………..

    • Hi Miss Bonnie, wow, what an interesting story but I think she was mistaken about a lot. There was never an Allison gang that I’ve ever read about. He ranched with his brothers off and on for many years and they got into a lot of situations but he was never known to rob banks, stagecoaches, or anything. He’d married and settled down in Pecos, Texas when he was killed in a freak accident. And I think everyone has a Jesse James story. People didn’t want him to die. But thank you so much for an interesting story. I love it.

      • All the story was really unbelievable to me. It was interesting that she was so insistent that her “research” and what she says she heard from older family members was fact. I am sure some of our visit has slipped my mind, but I do recall the thinking the funeral which Jesse James supposedly attended was not true because of the time span plus the fact I think there is no doubt that his death is as reported. She did mention numerous times about how “mean” the Allison guys were, according to family tradition. Anyway, you have done the research so what you’ve ascertained is accurate.

  20. The first person I danced with was my sister!???My uncle filmed the two of us doing the twist together when I was about 6 or 7. It was hilarious!! It’s still about the only dance I can do. My sister and I are only 15 months apart and “thick as thieves” as the old saying goes.

    • Hi Deborah! How fun was that dancing to the Twist! I can just imagine your sister dancing up a storm and laughing your heads off. That was great exercise by the way. I’m glad you and your sister are close. My sister and I are too. Life is so grand with a sister. Thanks for coming.

  21. Clay is one of my all-time-favorite characters, sister! I loved the way he could sweep the ladies around the dancefloor, or piece of dirt. Great post and I highly recommend the book!

    • Hi Jan! Wow, this is great, sister! Clay was such a huge character and I think that’s maybe because he was Clay Allison first. Not sure but he really exploded on the page. Thank you for recommending The Outlaw’s Mail Order Bride. I love you dearly.

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