By Rachel Shuster
Justin Mayotte may not have grown up line dancing, but from the moment he tried it, he loved it. In fact, his passion led him to become an instructor at the Dance Ranch and Saloon, located at 70 James Street in Worcester, with hopes of making the Worcester community fall in love with this style of dance, too.
Owner/photographer of Flash House Studios in Worcester by day, Mayotte began dancing in 2008, with a little help from an ex-girlfriend and some alcohol. “My ex-girlfriend decided it would be fun to go to the Dance Ranch and Saloon. I was a little hesitant, so I drank a bit, went, and ended up loving it,” Mayotte says.
With no background in any genres of dance (besides at clubs and in his room), Mayotte found that line dancing came very naturally to him and he became a regular at the Dance Ranch and Saloon.
In January of this year, Mayotte made the leap from participant to line dance instructor at the Dance Ranch, teaching beginner classes and private lessons to a wide variety of students. While his teaching schedule is subject to change, his dedication is unwavering.
“The Dance Ranch is a club/bar where people can come and hang out, have a drink, and dance if they want to, but don’t have to. What’s great about line dancing is that it’s all feet, no arms. Most people can do it, even if they aren’t dancers. You can add in your own style. You can wear what you like. I even line dance in my flip flops. There’s no wrong way to line dance,” Mayotte says.
The Dance Ranch has beginner dance lessons on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 7pm – 10pm, beginner dance lessons with a DJ from 8pm-9pm, with open dancing until 1am on Friday nights, and beginner dance lessons from 6:30pm-8pm, with open dancing until 12am on Saturday nights.
While line dancing is normally associated with country music, Mayotte explains that it can work with all different kinds of music . “The music we line dance to is about 75% country, yes, but it’s also 25% pop. We’ve even danced to Lady Gaga!” he says.
The Boot Scootin Boogie is one of Mayotte’s favorite dances because of its upbeat rhythms, but line dancing can also be slow, making for another fun dynamic.
“Everyone is so nice at the Dance Ranch. If they don’t know you when you walk in, they try to know you. We have people come in who range from 20 years old all the way to 80 years old. It brings people together,” Mayotte says.
For more information on the Dance Ranch and Saloon and Justin Mayotte’s classes, visit www.danceranchandsaloon.com or check them out on Facebook.