This gay Atlanta guy’s rhythm is gonna get you

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Kyle Tullos knows you’re watching him dance, and he hopes you’re checking out his ass. But there’s more to this Atlanta dancing queen than his two-step. If the rhythm doesn’t get you, his country-boy charm will.

Teaching ballroom dancing at Academy Ballroom ATL, Tullos (photos) also competes professionally. Tullos helps coach and choreograph Southern Line Atlanta, a competitive LGBT line dancing and country western dance team, and he hits Heretic on Thursdays to have the time of his life on Country Night.

“When I first moved here two years ago, I was looking for a place that I could dance socially, and make friends,” Tullos says. “A fellow dance pro told me about the Heretic’s Country Nights. I’d never seen a gay dancing community before, let alone a country one, but after a few minutes I was being introduced to everyone and making friends. From that day, I’ve been an avid supporter and promoter, even bringing some of my ballroom students along.”

Project Q chatted with the Mississippi native about the similarities between ballroom competitions and college football games, why there’s no such thing as “two left feet” and why dancers make damn good lovers.

What styles of dance do you teach?

I teach all four ballroom dancing categories: American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Latin and Standard. Although, I predominately teach American Style. I also teach Country Western and West Coast Swing.

Do you have a favorite?

Choosing a favorite is difficult. I like the different characteristics of each dance, and though musically some sound similar, the emotional context and style in which you dance it is different.

What are your earliest dance memories?

When I was little, my sister used to call me into her room while playing music and ask me to dance for her. Being the ham, I was happy to oblige. Of course, she was doing it in such a way to humiliate and poke fun at me, but those times gave me great insight into my future self. Looking back . . . I might not have discovered the love for dancing, and music, and expression, I have today.

What happens to you when you dance?

Dance to me is a bit like reflexology. When I hear the music and start dancing, I am detoxifying myself. I use my body, mind, soul, and music to escape. Things beyond where I am in those moments are non-existent.  Like a chameleon, changing and adapting and thriving in the present moment, dance is my survival.

Did dancing or your sexuality affect growing up in Mississippi?

As a male [dancer], almost everyone automatically assumes you are gay but it didn’t until about 17, when I was coming into my own and got my first job teaching at a ballroom studio. People started questioning my sexuality, commenting on it and sharing it before I was comfortable. It made things quite difficult and put things into perspective. I really saw the narrow lens of the small-town cities and communities.

Do you miss Mississippi?

I am a country boy at heart and always will be, walking barefoot, playing in the woods, building forts and fires, camping under the stars with the dogs, playing in the mud, swimming in the lakes, ponds and streams are all things I love and grew up doing. See, in the country you learn to make your own fun and see the brighter side of things – lessons I hold dear. I wouldn’t change how I grew up because it allows me to have the opened eyed view of the world as I do today.  I’ve seen both sides of the coin, both the small and bigger picture.  Sure, I wish Mississippi as a whole was more tolerant and accepting of LGBTs and other communities as equal, but I will tell you this, most people don’t mind, it’s the legislature really driving the hatred in the state.

What is your affiliation with Southern Line Atlanta?

SLA kind of fell into my lap. I was asked to join the team by several team members during different country nights, but didn’t think it would be fair for me to compete with them, as I’m both pro in Ballroom and Country Western. Instead, I offered my services as a choreographer and a coach.

I started mid-season, which didn’t give much room for error in helping shape up the routine, and cleaning up the dancers’ technique and showmanship. However, in a few months, we grew tremendously as a team and the hard work paid off by coming home with a win and a plaque.

Do you have an all-time favorite song or dance?

That’s a difficult question to answer, but a few songs that inspire me at the moment, getting my heart racing and my body moving, are:

“I’ll Keep You Safe” by Sleeping At Last – Viennese Waltz

“Boogie Shoes” by KC and The Sunshine Band – Cha Cha or West Coast Swing

“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston – Anything really, just move

“Dust to Dust” by The Civil Wars – Bolero

Is dancing competition cutthroat?

Just like anything competitive, there are people that are cruel and cross the line, but for the most part everyone cheers for and supports one another.

Most people don’t know this but ballroom competitions are a lot like football games: people have signs and noisemakers to support their friends, family members, or instructors/Pros. People are yelling out competitors’ numbers and chanting for the judges to mark them well. With that fellowship and spirit, it’s hard to be mean and ruthless.

What instruction would you give people without rhythm?

I would say everyone has rhythm. People don’t realize but everything you do in life is to some sort of rhythm.  Let’s take your body. It’s alive and mobile because of a rhythm – your heart beat. So at the very core of every single person on earth is rhythm . . . but it’s a learning process that unfolds over time as you discover how you respond, interpret, and utilize rhythm in dance and your everyday life. Don’t expect yourself to pick it up right off the bat, everyone learns at different paces.

Do dancers make better lovers?

[laughs] Most definitely! We know – through dance – how to be passionate, strong, aggressive, soft, sensual, and sexual and an array of other emotions that make up a great lover. On top of that, we know how to use our bodies to do things and can keep a good rhythm and flow. Dance also keeps your body in relatively good shape from the cardio and helps build you up a nice ass – feel free to check mine out as I am dancing anytime!

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