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Cowboy boots and line dancing: The people of the Dusty Armadillo

Addison Foreman
Logan Bennett (center left) and Noah Silvestro (center) stand around the Dusty Armadillo’s outdoor patio with friends on Dec. 15, 2023.

Every Wednesday and Friday night, line dancers and country-music lovers crowd into The Dusty Armadillo, a local bar located in Rootstown, about 15 minutes from Kent.

On the dance floor, experienced line dancers step in perfect time to country music, flaunting cowboy hats, boots and their best country garb.

Newcomers watch from the side of the dance floor, trying to pick up dance steps or just admiring the experienced dancers while  “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “House Party” blasts throughout the bar.

Everyone takes the floor when popular line dance songs like “Cotton Eye Joe” or “The Electric Slide” come on.

Dusty Armadillo regular Noah Silvestro said he has gone to the bar weekly for about a year. Though he hadn’t really danced before, he found line dancing to be really fun and a great way to be social.

“I have never been a dancer, like I’ve never been good at it,” he said. “It’s like one of the first times I’ve actually felt good about myself, and it’s strictly just from this place.”

Silvestro said learning the line dances and perfecting them gives him confidence, which is why he keeps coming back to the Dusty Armadillo.

Silvestro’s friend, Logan Bennett, was the one who introduced him to the bar a year ago

“I had a friend of mine that kept inviting me all throughout the summer, nonstop, and then finally I said yes, and I brought every single one of my friends here from day one,” Bennett said.

After the first time he went to the Dusty, Bennett enjoyed it so much that he introduced it to all of his friends. Whenever he goes to the bar, he usually brings a large group of friends with him, who know the dances very well.

One of the reasons Bennett said he enjoys line dancing so much is because he likes to become good at the dances and teach them to others.

“I kind of enjoy the attention a little bit because I kind of came into this as a kid who just went to work and came home,” he said. “The social aspect of being able to teach people how to dance and know that people are having a good time watching us has always made me feel good.”

Ever since his first visit to the Dusty Armadillo with friends, medical student Abdelrahman Nada found himself not wanting to leave.

“They were like, ‘Okay, we’ve been here for two hours, let’s leave,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not going anywhere,’” he said. “I fell in love with the place instantly.”

Nada said he used to do competitive Arab dancing, which has similar stomping and footwork to line dancing.

“I was already used to it, so when I saw that this was a way for me to do that even though I’m far away from home, I decided to jump on it,” he said.

When he’s on the dance floor, Nada said he likes to guide other dancers who are trying to learn the steps to a song. He points in the direction dancers are supposed to go in and says the next moves so those who are learning can try and get it right.

“It’s so much fun teaching people,” he said. “When you see them get it, it’s so fun.”

Nada usually wears a black cowboy hat and boots to fit the country theme of the Dusty Armadillo.

“I’ll almost never wear cowboy gear outside of this place,” he said. “So I’ll always wear a pair of boots and I’ll always wear a hat.”

Merideth Markley, a worker at a local animal shelter, usually goes to the Dusty every Wednesday and Friday night in knee-high fringe cowboy boots. She said boots are essential because people will step on others’ feet on the dance floor.

“I love country, I grew up on it,” she said. “Anytime I can country line dance and just be around country, I’m all for it.”

Markley said she loves adding moves into the dances to make them her own, like drops, spins and kicks.

“It’s a stress reliever for me,” she said. “My work is kind of stressful a little bit, and it just helps to relieve it. You don’t think about stuff when you’re dancing.”

On Wednesday and Friday evenings, the Dusty Armadillo hosts line dancing lessons for a couple of hours, starting around 7:30 p.m., so people can learn the dances before the bar crowd comes in.

“As long as you jump in at every dance, then you can learn it pretty quickly,” Markley said.

Every Wednesday night, the Dusty Armadillo also has a college night, where students 18 years and older are invited to join in on the dancing.

“It’s just fun,” Markley said. “If anybody can come out and try it, I recommend it because it’s a good time.”

Addison Foreman is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Addison Foreman, General Assignment Editor
Addison is a junior journalism major minoring in creative writing and political science. She enjoys writing about politics, government and current events. She also loves reading and hanging out with her cat. Contact her at [email protected]  

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