Dancing with a Buzz

Kalispell woman fulfills dream of owning coffee shop with a dance floor to cut loose

By Molly Priddy
Karen Paul, owner of the Dancing Barista in Kalispell, on Jan. 10, 2019. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

When Karen Paul moved to Kalispell from Columbia Falls in June to achieve her dream, you can bet she was shaking a leg and cutting a rug while she loaded boxes and arranged furniture.

She was also likely dancing when she leased the space in the little remodeled business park on Sixth Avenue West for her coffee shop, and especially when she had friends and family over for a holiday soft opening to break in the shop’s expansive dance floor.

“Who can sit still when music is playing?” Paul said last week, her leg bobbing in rhythm with Frank Sinatra crooning out of the speakers. “I’m the type, when I hear music, I have to get up and dance.”

Paul’s coffee shop, Dancing Barista, is now open in Kalispell and offers the caffeine lovers of the Flathead a new alternative for getting out stress while getting their buzz on: dancing at the coffee shop.

“It’s been a dream of mine for eight years,” Paul said.

A single mother, Paul’s focus for the last 19 years has been raising her son and making sure he graduated from high school. She’s had experience as a photographer, and also opened a coffee shop and bakery in Wyoming where she baked the goods from scratch.

But her most recent employment turn was as a water aerobics instructor in the valley, during which Paul could choreograph her own routines and get her aerobics students in better shape while bringing dancing to the water.
Now that her son is graduated and she’s an “empty nester,” Paul is putting the water aerobics on hold for a bit while she nurtures her new business, but intends on bringing the same passion and fun attitude to her shop.

The space has a large dance floor front and center, with tables and chairs lining the walls, which are decorated with some of Paul’s favorite album covers. She’s got a space for her photography, which can also host other artists, and plans on putting in a stage soon for live music and comedy nights.

Dancing Barista is an alcohol- and drug-free space, an environment Paul would like to cultivate for the teenagers and others in the valley who want to let loose but aren’t into the bar scene when it comes to live music.

“Laughter and dancing, I think both of those are stress relief,” she said. “I’ve learned there are probably more like me out there.”

The coffee shop serves espresso drinks, mocktails (alcohol-free cocktails), and will have energy drink concoctions. Paul also has prepackaged food items available, such as fancy chocolates, pastries, and local meats and cheeses.

Along with coffee and dancing, the shop also plans to host community events weekly, such as Coffee Shop TV Tuesday, where Paul will host an evening for friends to gather to watch the NBC drama, “This Is Us,” and Dance It Off weeknights and Saturdays. She will also show popular comedians on the big screen for Laugh It Off Fridays until she gets live comedians signed up.

And since the coffee shop is large and community oriented, Paul said it’s a perfect candidate to rent for private meetings, parties, and occasions.
The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but if the dancers are truly tearing up the dance floor, then Paul will likely let it continue.

“I want to influence the youth and let them know you can have fun and get crazy without alcohol and drugs,” Paul said. “I want to offer that.”
For more information about Dancing Barista, including upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/DancingBarista.