Rheinländer can be danced in the normal closed dance posture of the standard dances or in the Rheinländer dance posture, with which the gentleman stands easily staggered behind the lady; both look in dance direction. If several couples dance in a circle, the lady can change a place forwards or also backwards to the next partner.
Rheinländer is danced in 2/4-time to slow Polka music (36 beats per minute).
Past and Present
Approximately about 1100 a non ritual, social folk dance based on rustic dances came into being, which in a revised form became an example for many courtly dances. The term "folk dance" was created first in the 18th century in order to separate it from the dances of upper classes.
Folk dance has its roots in the elementary dances of a nation and was passed with song and tradition, from generation to generation, in a non-written custom. The dance style changed slowly and unobserved. Folk dances differ in ethnic and geographic points of view. The pronounced folk character can be found in skill dances as the sword dance, the 'woo dance' as Bavarian Schuhplattler or Ländler, as well as the social dances including the English country dances. National dances are so named, when all members of a nation are familiar with it.
On the Continent, the ballroom dances Quadrille, Cotillon, Anglaise, French contredanse and German Kontratanz were evolved on the base of country dances. They survived beneath Allemande and Menuett until they were replaced by Viennese Waltz. Later on the folk dances of Greece, Italy and Spain provided the material for a great repertoire. On the base of this rich tradition nearly all court dances evolved, which resulted in stylised stage dances: Bourée, Courante, Gavotte, Menuett, Musette, Passepied or Rigaudon were French folk dances. Fandango, Chaconne, Passacaglia and Sarabande are of Spanish origin, while Tarantella, Piva and Saltarello are Italian. About 1550 Allemande came into being simultaneously in England, France and the Netherlands.
The Scottish, which about 1830 to 40 was very popular, probably evolved from Hopser, a considerably older German folk dance. It got its name from Ecossaise (French for Scottish), a Counterdance. From 1842 in the cities Scottish was replaced by the faster Polka, but in the country it survived into our century. Scottish has much in common with Rheinländer, which is well known even today.
Its name appears in the lute books of the 16th century and even in the wedding cantata by J. S. Bach. In musical-rhythmic respect the dance is present in the song "Cousin Michel" known before the 18th century. Its dance movement consists of an alternating step with a hop. It's the first straight-time ballroom dance with a turn in the alternating step. In general all turns are danced clockwise. Mainly it was danced by couples as a round dance, but it was modified several times, and was popular with several names, in the field of folk dance. As a Modern Dance it lost its meaning in the middle of the 19th century and was replaced over all by Polka.