Dusty Armadillo offers line dancing lessons and country music

The Dusty Armadillo, located in Rootstown, offers line-dancing lessons every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m.. Photo by Anthony Vence.

The Dusty Armadillo, located in Rootstown, offers line-dancing lessons every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m.. Photo by Anthony Vence.

Rachel Hagenbaugh

The minute I walked into the Dusty Armadillo, I felt like I was in the middle of a music video. Suddenly, I wasn’t a college student anymore, but I was a hometown country girl who was ready to line dance like an expert.

The crowd was steady when I arrived Wednesday at 8 p.m. The club had neon lights, old-fashioned beer signs and banners all over the walls. The bar was immediately to the right as I walked in. To the left was a small area of tables and bar stools. Beyond that section was the real fun — the line-dancing floor.

After speaking with the manager for a few minutes, I headed to the dance floor where line-dancing lessons were in progress. The choreographer stood on a high stage and went through the song step by step. By the end of the lesson, I was one song closer to becoming a line dancer.

Beginner line-dancing lessons are from 7-9 p.m. every Wednesday, which is college ID night, and the bar is open to people 18 and older. Friday and Saturday nights, the bar is only open to those 21 and older. General manager Colleen Callahan said Wednesday night is the most popular.

“Our capacity is 700 people, and we meet it almost every Wednesday,” Callahan said.

The real action began after 9 p.m. Hundreds of people flooded the entrance. Most of them were decked out in short cut-off jeans, plaid shirts and cowboy boots. The moment music exploded from the speakers, people ambushed the dance floor. The normal lights dimmed and were replaced by disco balls and disco lights for the remainder of the evening.

On either side of the dance floor was tables and chairs, but most of them were empty. Everyone was out on the dance floor stomping and chanting to the beat. The crowd was full of all different levels of line dancers. Beginners, like myself, were tripping over their own two feet. The more experienced dancers were moving so fast I couldn’t believe how they were doing it.

Even during the songs I couldn’t dance to, I was enjoying myself. The more experienced dancers were incredible to watch. Some of them were even texting while dancing. During some songs, the advanced dancers formed a large circle around the beginners. While the beginners danced to a simple routine, the others performed more difficult steps, including spinning around, dancing with a partner and flipping a partner over their arms. The way the crowd moved and danced in unison was baffling.

For those who wanted to take a cigarette break, there was a side door that led outside to a fenced-in section. During warmer weather there is a fireplace, outside bar and a cornhole set.

On one wall of the bar there are various autographed pictures, including country musicians Craig Morgan, Joe Diffie, Eric Church and Emerson Drive. Callahan said the musicians who signed the pictures performed at the Dusty Armadillo. She said her boss is connected with record labels in Nashville, Tenn.

“We don’t make a profit off the ticket sales,” Callahan said. “It’s just good for us and good for business.”

The cost of the tickets is the amount of money the musician requests divided by the number of people expected to attend, Callahan said. The only profit the Dusty Armadillo makes on concert nights is what people spend for drinks.

Occasionally, the bar will feature themed nights. Every year, the bar has St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, “Halfway to Halloween” and “Pajama Jammy Jam” parties. “Love Sucks” is the next party that is being held in celebration of Valentine’s Day.

Throughout the night, the staff was very upbeat and happy to serve the customers. It was busy when I went up to the bar, but I was immediately acknowledged. A couple minutes later, I was served and left the bar pleased.

For anyone who enjoys the country-like atmosphere, I highly recommend taking a trip to the Dusty Armadillo. It’s a place full of good music, interesting people, incredible dancing and an all around great time that can’t be found just anywhere.

“I pride myself on the staff and I try to keep a friendly, family atmosphere,” Callahan said.

As I began to leave the bar at 11 p.m., it was only getting busier. I took one last look around and realized places like this are hard to find. Whether people were dancing or not, everyone was smiling and having an extraordinary time.

The Dusty Armadillo is located on state Route 44 in Rootstown, Ohio.

Contact Rachel Hagenbaughat [email protected].