by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Travis Long
“When you waltz to Nine Inch Nails or Pearl Jam, it’s like, holy cow, this is fun.” – Larry Larson, founder and CEO, Larry’s Coffee
Nine years ago, Larry Larson’s doctor asked the now 50-year-old coffee roaster and entrepreneur about his work-life balance. He had none. “I love what I do,” he told his doctor, and he did it all the time. But in an effort to find a healthy – and completely different – activity from sustainable coffee roasting, Larson learned how to waltz. Then he met contemporary social dance teacher Richard Powers, an advocate of classic dancing to offbeat music. It was a game-changer. “Whether it’s waltz or polka or tango, I just can’t get enough.” Now, Larson and girlfriend Lori Langdon travel across the country to attend Richard Powers workshops. “Dancing to modern music is a big deal, versus to fuddy-duddy music, which I don’t care for,” he says. His current favorites include waltzing to Beck, polkaing to The Decemberists, and schottischeing to Green Day.
When in Raleigh, the pair meet at the Larry’s Coffee roasting warehouse to practice. They’ve talked about building a spot near the warehouse to host open contemporary social dances, but they’re in no hurry: “One thing at a time,” Larson says. In the meantime, “we love local music festivals like Shakori Hills and LEAF in Black Mountain.” There, you’ll usually find him waltzing. “It’s consistently my most favorite dance.”