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What is the local tradition of music and dance in Ohio?

Exploring Ohio’s Rich Tapestry of Music and Dance Traditions

Ohio’s cultural landscape is a vibrant patchwork of music and dance traditions, reflecting the diverse heritage of its inhabitants. From the rhythmic foot-tapping of Appalachian cloggers to the soulful melodies of Cincinnati’s jazz, the Buckeye State offers a plethora of auditory and visual delights.

Appalachian Influence and Square Dancing

In the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio, the Appalachian tradition is alive and well. Here, the sounds of fiddles and banjos accompany the swift, precise movements of clog dancers. This high-energy dance form, with its roots in the British Isles, has been a staple of local festivities for generations. Square dancing, too, holds a special place in Ohio’s heart, with community gatherings often featuring ‘callers’ who guide dancers through intricate patterns.

Jazz, Blues, and Rock ‘n’ Roll

Moving to the urban centers, Ohio’s musical landscape shifts to the smooth and improvisational tunes of jazz. Cities like Cincinnati and Cleveland have historically been hotbeds for jazz and blues, with legendary venues hosting greats like B.B. King and Miles Davis. Rock ‘n’ Roll also claims a stake in Ohio’s cultural identity, with Cleveland being home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a testament to the state’s influence on this genre.

Polka and Ethnic Celebrations

Ohio’s ethnic diversity is celebrated through music and dance as well. Polka music, brought by Eastern European immigrants, is particularly popular in areas like Cleveland, where polka parties and festivals keep this lively tradition thriving. Additionally, Ohio’s Hispanic community contributes with vibrant salsa and merengue, adding to the state’s rich cultural tapestry.


Q: What are some traditional Appalachian instruments?
A: Traditional Appalachian music often features the fiddle, banjo, guitar, and sometimes the dulcimer.

Q: Where can one experience live jazz in Ohio?
A: There are numerous jazz clubs and annual jazz festivals in cities like Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Q: Is square dancing still popular in Ohio?
A: Yes, square dancing continues to be a popular social activity, with many communities hosting regular dances.


Appalachian cloggers: Dancers who perform a style of folk dance originating from the Appalachian region, characterized by the rhythmic tapping of the dancers’ feet.
Square dancing: A dance for four couples arranged in a square, with a caller who calls out the steps.
Polka: A lively dance of Bohemian origin, with a fast tempo and a 2/4 time signature, often accompanied by accordion music.