“There’s a lot of us out there who say they want to thank John Travolta,” says Pat Tharp, owner of Dancemasters in Lake Highlands.
Who knows? If “Urban Cowboy” hadn’t hit the big screen, business may not be as brisk as it is at Tharp’s dance studio.
In the movie “Urban Cowboy,” John Travolta made people “start dancing with each other again,” Tharp says.
Tharp, an athletic-looking 60-year-old, says his generation had ballroom dancing, and the so-called Generation X has country-western dancing.
Somewhere in middle there, though, baby-boomers stopped dancing as couples, he says.
Dancemasters offers both country-western and ballroom dance classes for folks of any age. Students range anywhere from children to 90-year-olds, Tharp says.
Tharp has owned the studio, located in the Kroger shopping center on Northwest Highway at Plano Road, for 11 years.
He has had help along the way from Lake Highlands High School graduate Sharon Kaip, who has been teaching and helping Tharp out since the studio opened its doors.
Tharp says his Canadian maple dance floor formerly was owned by the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, which used it as a portable basketball court on parking lots throughout the country. (In the early ’50s, the Globetrotters – comprised mostly of African-Americans – weren’t allowed to play in many gymnasiums.)
Later, the floor was sold to Disneyland and used as an outdoor stage at the amusement park.
Today, the wooden floor withstands 70-80 hours of dance classes each week.
“It’s down-home,” says student Elayne Anderson.
Anderson has traveled from Lewisville for the past two years to Dancemasters because of the studio’s approach to teaching dance.
“It isn’t fancy. You go to learn to dance. It’s refreshing,” the 53-year-old says.
Kaip teaches tap part-time, and Tharp, who has been teaching dance for the past 30 years, still teaches several classes every week.
The studio offers private dance lessons, and costs vary, depending on the teacher. Large dance classes cost $10 per class. Dancemasters also hosts several shows and an annual dance competition.
“A lot of dance studios are clubs, and you go party,” Anderson says. “But at Dancemasters, you learn to dance.”
Tharp plans to continue teaching dance at Dancemasters for years to come, he says.
“I don’t know what else to do,” he shrugs.
“My sister kids me and wonders whether or not I’m going to get a real job,” he says.