Home Lifestyle Behind the Scenes at Life’s a Dance

Behind the Scenes at Life’s a Dance

Doug and Karen Jolly with Victor and Melanie Luna

I have a hard time saying no to anything that sounds fun in the moment. Want to go to the beach this Saturday? YES! Want to plan a vacation to St. Lucia for this summer? YES! Want to drive down to Orlando and visit Mickie next weekend? YES!


It’s not often that the yes becomes a reality when given in the moment. When I’m asked to participate in these exhilarating activities, all awareness of my calendar and responsibility flies out the window. After all, “girls just wanna have fun!”

When asked by my good friend and fellow Local Pulse writer Melanie Luna, co-owner (with husband Victor) of Life’s a Dance, if my husband and I would consider dancing in the 2024 Life’s a Dance competition, the word YES came flying out of my mouth before my brain had a chance to catch up. It was as if the word ‘no’ didn’t exist in my vocabulary. What could possibly be better than dancing graciously across the stage with my husband in front of fellow members of our community?

Do we know how to dance for a competition? No.

Do we have even an ounce of time in our calendars to learn? Also no.

Did Doug (my husband you may recognize as a Local Pulse Food Crusher) know I had already said yes when I brought it up to him? Another no.

But has it been worth it? 100% Yes!

I soon convinced Doug that not only would it be fun, but it’s also something we could do together as a couple since we’re often found on opposite sides of town, running in different directions. It would be like a mandatory date once a week which happened to include a world and United States Theatrical Ballroom Champion dance instructor.

After officially joining the roster of competitors, the work began. Our first homework assignment was picking out our song. If I had to guess, I’d say we listened to approximately 894 songs which led to late night chats and laughs playing songs for each other. Some were sentimental to us, some were trendy. But around 1 am on a Wednesday night, we decided on the perfect song. You’ll have to attend Life’s a Dance to learn this secret.

The first several lessons consisted of getting to know Vic, learning a few pieces of our dance, and a lot of focusing on not hurting each other. This took practicing at home as well. Once we nailed a move, our wonderful kiddos got the privilege of watching us execute it in the living room.  We even got a “wow” from them once or twice.

Next, Victor beautifully wove all the pieces together making the dance come alive in all the right places.

Now, we practice start to finish, over and over, each time correcting little things that we may miss. We don’t expect to execute the dance perfectly, we do expect you to experience the love and connection we have after being married almost 24 years.

While this has been a spectacular experience for us as a couple, knowing it’s for something bigger than us brings us the most joy; the year-long community giving efforts of Life’s A Dance 501(c)3 and AMIkids Pensacola. Doug and I personally believe that children should never have to bear the consequences of adult decisions, but so often they do. With organizations like these in our community, we can help generations of children succeed in life and break generational trauma.

Life’s A Dance (LAD) does more than these two events a year; it’s a beacon of support for the arts, particularly ballroom dance, for underserved children and families along the Florida panhandle. Through instruction, workshops, sponsorships, and events, LAD invests in the children of the community, providing opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach.

Doug and I personally invite you to join us in an extraordinary evening of a local dance competition, but more importantly, we invite you to join us in giving our local children a chance to learn and succeed in life.

Tickets to the event can be purchased HERE and donations to the charities can be made HERE. Let’s come together as a community and make a different for our local kids!

Karen Jolly

Local Pulse Staff Writer