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Stud Country is queer-led line dancing in Los Angeles



#Stud #Nation #queerled #line #dancing #Los #Angeles

At Stud Nation, a weekly queer nation and western line dancing class, there are not any drinks allowed on the dance ground. To the {couples} and associates gathered for an evening out beneath the glitter of a large disco ball, this will appear counterintuitive. However as soon as a whole lot of shoes begin stomping and Wrangler-clad hips start shaking, it begins to make sense.

Each Monday evening, Stud Country attracts a neighborhood of queer Angelenos and allies who pay $20 to line dance. Onstage at Membership Bahia, founders Bailey Salisbury and Sean Monaghan — greatest associates who met 20 years in the past within the punk scene at California School of the Arts in Oakland — put on popstar microphones as they educate strikes from a raised platform. Under them, dancers comply with alongside, hooting and hollering each time they grasp even the only of steps.

Bailey Salisbury and Sean Monaghan sitting together on the edge of a stage.

Bailey Salisbury and Sean Monaghan, co-founders of Stud Nation, pose for a photograph earlier than instructing line dancing at Membership Bahia.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

Whereas catering nation and western line dancing to a queer crowd might seem to be a novel idea to some, it’s something however. In Los Angeles, queer line dancing has a protracted historical past rooted within the now defunct Studio Metropolis bar Oil Can Harry’s. In 2017, Salisbury, who was raised by a dance instructor mom in San Luis Obispo, and Monaghan, who grew up Irish dancing within the Bay Space, started attending line dancing nights a number of occasions per week at Oil Can Harry’s. Each nation music lovers, they have been hooked.

“Oil Can Harry’s was the primary place in L.A. I discovered a neighborhood,” says Monaghan.

Through the pandemic, the very best associates scratched their Oil Can itch by instructing line dancing courses to associates by way of Zoom. As soon as it was secure, the duo’s dance courses shifted from on-line to in particular person. In 2021, when the 52-year-old bar introduced its closure resulting from new constructing possession, Monaghan and Salisbury have been simply two of the various line dancers in Los Angeles and not using a queer-friendly area to convene.

“Beginning Stud Nation wasn’t a enterprise transfer in any respect, we have been simply grieving and we would have liked to bop once more,” says Salisbury.

A detail of two people dancing, showing a person's hand adorned with tattoos and a large oval ring.

A pair dances collectively at Stud Nation.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

Bailey Salisbury and Sean Monaghan, shown at left, lead line dancing night for a large crowd.

Bailey Salisbury and Sean Monaghan, proven at left, lead line dancing evening for a big crowd.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

Half dance-class, half dance-party, Stud Nation took its official type when the teachings moved to Plaza, a homosexual bar in West Hollywood, a setting higher fitted to social dance. In October 2022, Stud Nation discovered its present house at Membership Bahia, a big Latin music membership in Echo Park.

“We thought, ‘What if we do it our approach, with our music?’” says Monaghan. “A whole lot of modern line dancing isn’t to nation music. We wished to convey it again and strike that steadiness at Stud Nation.”

Whereas there are many different locations to line dance in Los Angeles, Stud Nation is exclusive in its queer expertise, the place same-sex {couples} can dance in peace — one thing that was unlawful for a lot of the twentieth century. Instagram videos have introduced a youthful crowd in velvet tops and furry cowboy hats who share the dance ground with Oil Can Harry’s veterans in easy flannel shirts and denims.

A person wearing a decorative western hat joins the crowd watching people dance together at Stud Country.

An individual carrying an ornamental western hat joins the gang watching individuals dance collectively at Stud Nation.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

Two people, one in a polo and one in flannel, hold each other as they dance by.

{Couples} contact palms whereas whirling by throughout Stud Nation’s line dancing evening.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

Each Monday, the evening kicks off with free time to associate dance, the place gender is disregarded as {couples} resolve who leads and who follows in a two-step. After a number of songs, count-by-count line dance instruction begins. As soon as a dance has been defined and practiced a number of occasions, it’s time for music.

“The sensation if you lastly get the dance makes you’re feeling very related with the individuals round you. You’re feeling like you will have succeeded if you’re in lockstep with everybody else. It’s a sense of unity,” says Imogene Strauss, a inventive director and Stud Nation common. She’s began working towards the dances on off nights in her basement.

A couple of people dancing together on a dance floor, surrounded by others dancing under a disco ball.

{Couples} dance beneath multicolored lights and a glittering disco ball throughout Stud Nation’s line dancing evening.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

After a number of easy dance classes, seasoned dancers are invited to leap into line dances they know by identify — both from a previous Stud Nation occasion or elsewhere. Whereas Stud Nation is for everybody, novice dancers know that’s the time for them to seize a drink or individuals watch. The evening does its greatest to accommodate these prepared to interrupt into music video mode and people who aren’t aware of a jazz sq. or grapevine, a steadiness which will develop more and more troublesome as attendance rises.

Regardless of the art-school aesthetics of the evening’s merchandise and branding, Stud Nation is extra about honoring custom than being fashionable. Most dances taught at Stud Nation aren’t distinctive to the occasion or to queer dance nights. The bulk are traditional dances discovered by the founders at Oil Can Harry’s; others have been picked up at occasions throughout the nation. A couple of are Stud Nation originals, with choreography by Monaghan — a rarity in line dancing, which is made up of a core group of dances which have traveled by oral instruction for many years.

“Line dancing is folks dancing, it’s storytelling,” explains Salisbury.

A person in a red sweater and white skirt dances on a multicolored dance floor.

A surge of dancers hit the ground in cowboy boots and different western put on.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

Two photos side by side, one showing two people dancing and the other a close up of two people holding hands.

{Couples} maintain palms and dance collectively at Stud Nation.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

To the common Stud Nation attendee, the historical past of line dance is probably not obvious, and that’s OK. A very good time is probably going whether or not you view the evening as a enjoyable Monday or part of queer historical past. However to the founders, creating an area that’s as genuine as it’s camp is severe enterprise.

Shane Kirkpatrick, who danced at Oil Can Harry’s for 13 years, has been attending Stud Nation for simply over a month. A member of the L.A. Wranglers, a homosexual country-western efficiency group and nonprofit group, he was impressed by seeing Stud Nation persevering with the custom.

What: Queer-led line dancing with Stud Nation
The place: Membership Bahia, 1130 Sundown Blvd., Los Angeles (via April)
When: Mondays, doorways open at 8 p.m., classes begin at 8:30 p.m.
How a lot: $20

“Nation dance within the homosexual neighborhood is the final bastion of social dancing the place you will have bodily contact with one other particular person, converse with one other particular person, and make a connection that’s not something aside from dancing,” he says.

The pointed toes of cowboy boots peek out from between lines of dancers.

The pointed toes of cowboy boots peek out from between traces of dancers.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

As quickly as phrase of mouth induced attendance to quadruple, the founders acquired information that Membership Bahia’s constructing was sold for doable redevelopment. It’s set to shut someday this spring. With unbiased venues being swallowed by company promoters and a scarcity of huge sufficient dance flooring, the founders anticipate a problem discovering a brand new house and hope to comply with Membership Bahia wherever it strikes subsequent. Stud Nation pop-up occasions are set to launch in San Francisco, the place Salisbury now lives, and New York Metropolis. The founders dream of happening tour and even opening their very own dive bar with a dance ground. However within the meantime, the Bahia dance ground will do.

If you happen to present up subsequent Monday, by March you may assist a brand new Stud after they ask what a “kick-ball-change” is.

People begin to fill the dance floor for another night of Stud Country line dancing.

Individuals start to fill the dance ground for an additional evening of Stud Nation line dancing.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)