Search For:

Share This

Preserving a traditional dance

“Melting pot” of clogging still going strong 


Your feet can be more than a way to get from place to place. Your feet can be an instrument. 

Just ask Barry Lanham, a Kenergy Corp. consumer-member who teaches the traditional Appalachian dance called clog, or clogging, several nights a week in Daviess County. The classes draw folks from surrounding counties, including Warren, McLean, Ohio, Muhlenberg, Breckenridge and Grayson, as well as Spencer County, Indiana. 

“Clogging is derived in part from Irish, Scottish, Native American and German dancing,” Barry says. “It is a cousin to tap, Irish and is a traditional Appalachian folk dance. It is a melting pot of dances as old as America itself.” 

What differentiates clogging from other dances is that cloggers dance to the downbeat, usually keeping time with a fiddle and banjo. Most dancers use taps on their shoes.

The Footstompin’ Express Cloggers perform at a recent Lanham Brothers Jamboree at the Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Museum. Photo: AP Imagery

Barry was a college freshman at Brescia University in Owensboro when he discovered the dance form. He was looking for something unique to do that would also provide some exercise, and spotted an ad for clogging classes. He signed up, and a lifelong passion began. 

“I love the versatility of clogging,” he says. “There is traditional Appalachian clogging, where dancers are moving in figures and circles. Then there is modern clogging, which is often seen on television and in the movies.” 

Barry’s main goal is to keep the dance growing and to keep it on the forefront. In 2006, he was part of the successful effort to get the state legislature to name clogging as Kentucky’s state dance. 

There are many forums for both traditional and modern clogging. Barry’s troupe—the Footstompin’ Express Cloggers—is a good example. The troupe clogs at community events as well as at schools across Kentucky, and regularly performs at the Lanham Brothers Jamboree—co-created by Barry and his brother, Randy—at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Owensboro. 

Barry’s troupe even took clogging to China a few years ago. “We were invited to Shanghai through the KFC Yum! Brands,” he says. “We taught clogging at Shanghai International School and performed at the KFC restaurants in Shanghai. Clogging is the dance that is meant to be shared.” 

Barry’s classes are open to all ages and are taught on the main stage of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Museum in Owensboro. 

To watch clogging, tune in to KET on Sundays and Mondays for the Lanham Brothers Jamboree. The show highlights local and regional talent and features bluegrass, gospel, comedy, dancing and audience participation.

Don't Leave! Sign up for Kentucky Living updates ...

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.