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WHERE BOZEMAN GOES TO SHINE

Starlite Bozeman

“There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.” Austrian writer Vicki Baum is not alone in this sentiment. Dancing is perhaps one of life’s greatest joys and, when Sadie Barac opened Starlite Bozeman in 2019, she had a vision of providing a space for movement of all kinds. Bozeman had previously offered nothing like this: a venue for adults to take various dance classes, teach various dance classes, and explore creativity with motion.

Starlite is nestled in what some consider to be old, old Bozeman, on the curve of East Tamarack Street as it morphs into Front Street, in an unassuming metal building adorned with warm white lights. It is situated across from the historic Northern Pacific Railway train depot, and welcomes its guests with a retro Welcome to Starlite! sign out front.

Upon leasing the space, Sadie completely revamped the former gas station then blacksmith shop, scrubbing off the layer of soot covering every surface, and installing appliances, a floating floor (best for dancers’ feet), dance poles and bars, and her own eclectic style. The chandelier over the dance floor is woven with jewels from her late mother and a close friend, and an antique sousaphone hangs in the corner. The restored sign outside was found in the weeds and read FOOD MART, presumably from its days with Treasure State Oil and Gas. 

“This community is amazing–people I didn’t even know would show up to help,” Sadie said. “Local businesses gave me discounts, people helped me with design, neighbors donated décor–there’s no way I could have done it alone.”

Sadie held an open house in September, 2019, inviting the community to explore her new space and, over time, has amassed a loyal clientele and a wide variety of independent dance instructors. Despite the COVID-19 shutdown, Starlite pushed through. “We’re ready to thrive, not just survive,” Sadie said. The rotating schedule of classes offered at Starlite includes country, swing, Latin, belly dancing, yoga, burlesque, cardio, contemporary, pole, oula, chair, feminine movement, salsa, hip hop, tango, African, break dance, floor, 5Rhythms, stadium technique, and modern dance. Dancers can attend classes individually, or via the more economical option of purchasing a Class Pass package.

In addition to classes, Starlite offers private lessons, children’s summer camps, an annual December holiday tea party, workshops such as the upcoming Butterfly Transformation workshop for mothers and daughters, rental space for private events including birthday parties, bachelorette parties, presentations, children’s events, concerts, rehearsal dinners, and even small summer weddings. In the future, Starlite will offer cabaret shows, partnering with Juicy Entertainment, which is moving into the building.

Dancing can be a very effective way to get an aerobic workout, with a side of endorphins. One of the most popular classes, country swing offered by Western Roots Country Dancing, sees participants glowing with sweat as well as exhilaration and delight. Oula is another favorite, fusing high-intensity cardio moves with straightforward choreography. Working up a sweat is absolutely an option at Starlite.

For those who prefer more introspective, gentle, or exploratory physical activity, such as yoga or feminine movement, dancing may look very different. Some dance for empowerment, expression, inspiration. Some dance just for pure fun. Everybody’s body is different and there are many ways to manifest movement.

Sadie knows this. Having grown up dancing, she spent years taking various classes and seeking out places to dance in the evenings. When she got married and started a family, dancing was put on the back burner for a long time while she raised her children and pursued her degree in the healing arts. One day, going through boxes, she unearthed her kindergarten picture with her declared ambition for when she grew up: “to be a ballerina.” Ever since, Sadie has been exploring embodiment practices and embracing movement. “I remembered what brings me joy,” she said with a radiant smile. “I wanted to bring that to others.”

Mission accomplished. Sadie has since created a collaborative of unique and innovative, independent dance instructors who provide creative choreography, wellness, exercise, and an understanding of the importance of movement to the community.

“This community is amazing–people I didn’t even know would show up to help,” Sadie said. “Local businesses gave me discounts, people helped me with design, neighbors donated décor–there’s no way I could have done it alone.”

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