The Martin McZeal Dancing Machine: A Quick Study in Cutting a Rug

Life Outside of AP - Martin McZeal Story HEADER UPDATED

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Martin McZeal sure does have the right last name.

The AP Social Media Content Coordinator showed so much zeal for dancing that he went from complete novice to private instructor in the span of just seven months. His journey began when he went to Cowboys Dance Hall one night to hang out with some friends while attending UT Arlington.

“I had no idea how to dance at the time,” McZeal said.

“I had no desire to learn how to dance. I thought it was dumb. This girl ended up pulling me out on the dance floor and she was like, ‘Hey, you’ve got to learn.’ I saw this group of guys, who are now some of my closest friends, dancing and doing these crazy moves. I said, ‘I have to learn. That’s the coolest stuff.’”

The Dancing MachineWith the help of YouTube, lots of hours of practice and some input from dance partner Britni Weaver, McZeal ended up surpassing the skill level of his friends while becoming increasingly hooked on country dancing. Soon, he added West Coast Swing and Salsa to his repertoire.

“I learned the moves from YouTube, but Britni is really the one who taught me style,” McZeal said.

McZeal started teaching lessons after a club patron saw him dance and wanted to hire him on the spot.

“She said, ‘Hey, my husband and I want to learn how to dance from you,’” McZeal said. “’If you want to bring your partner, we’ll pay you $50 an hour.’ I was like, ‘Whoa! What?’ I’ve had 30-year-old students and 60-year-old students – really all ages.”

McZeal has taught around 15 couples over the course of the last 18 months strictly from word of mouth recommendations, although these days he pretty much sticks to teaching friends to dance at clubs.

“I still go out and dance twice a week,” McZeal said. “Dallas is one of the most saturated dance areas when it comes to skill level. Everyone is really, really good.”

McZeal, who also worked in human resources for the Texas Rangers baseball club, said he will continue to dance “as long as I can move” and hasn’t ruled out performing professionally at some point.

And when somebody asks him if he can dance?

“I always answer with, ‘I’m alright,’” McZeal said. “You never want to be the guy who says, ‘I’m amazing,’ because I hate that. I’ve seen guys do that, and they’re not very good. One of my good buddies came in from UT two weekends ago. He said, ‘I dance all of the time in Austin.’ But style varies from city to city. When he saw me dance, he was like, ‘Dude, what?’”

-Chuck Cox

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