The Straight Dance, sometimes referred to as Southern Traditional, is the formal and original dance of most of the Oklahoma tribes, including the Ponca, Osage, Kiowa, Comanche, Kaw, and many others. It is a dignified style, where the men who dance it keep a steady, flowing pace that is not interrupted with fancy moves or extra footwork. Because of its slow place, some people believe that it is an old man's dance, but this is not the case. There are many fine Straight Dancers in the Oklahoma area, ranging in age from ten to eighty. Some of the best places for Straight Dancers to go include the Ponca Hethuska and the Kiowa Tia-piah Society's Dance. The Ponca Hethuska is held twice a year in the town of White Eagle, Oklahoma, once in April and once in October. It is a formal war dance, meaning that it follows the old ways, and has many strict rules that must be adhered to. There, every dancer is required to dance every dance for the duration of the war dance, which is very tiring. The Kiowa Tia Piah Society holds their annual dance at Carnegie, OK over the Fourth of July. This dance is also excellent place to see Gourd Dancing.
Beginning from the top, most Straight Dancers wear a roach, about 20 inches in length with a single immature Golden eagle tail feather in the center. The spreader is often silver beaded leather, and a single lock of hair with a plain or beaded roach pin holds the roach in place. Often a few feathers will be atached to the roach pin. Many Straight dancers also will wear a headband made from a rolled up white handkerchief that is knotted on the forehead. Most also will have scalp feathers as well.
Most dancers will wear a ribbon shirt of some kind, although some do go without a shirt in the Southern heat. Bandoliers, made of everything from hairpipe, beads, and rifle cartridges, are worn from each shoulder, crossing the chest. It has also become common for almost all to wear a large neckerchief around their neck, secured by a German silver slide. A Beaded belt ties off everything nicely.
The primary article of any Straight Dancer is a drop, which can be made from a otter hide decorated with beadwork and ribbonwork or several silver or brass conchos strung together the length or the body. Drops are attached at the neck and should just scrape the ground when dancing. In the South, there are two main variations in dress. In the Ponca and Osage style, dark blue woolen aprons and leggings with beautiful and intricate ribbonwork is worn to cover the lower half of the body. This style relies heavily on ribbon and fine cloth to create its "look." The other main style, the Kiowa and Comanche Style, tab leggings are worn, and there is a greater reliance on German silverwork. Both styles have fingerwoven garters and belts tied around the waist and just below the knees. Either bells or deer toe clackers are worn just below the knee to produce a good sound. The outfit is finished with a beaded pair of moccasins.
A Straight dancer will always have some type of fan on him, either a loose fan, a flat fan or a wing fan. He will also will have a dance staff that is shorter and thinner than found in most other styles, and the staff may have small eagle feathers hanging from it.