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October 01, 2019

How To Discover Passion And Joy At Any Age! | Mary Lou Quinlan

Watch Mary Lou's Story Above and Read More Below

" How many things in life do you do where you can say at the end of an hour I'm happier? "

Do I take this new job?? Do I move to this new city? ?Do I eat the last doughnut? ?

As humans, we make decisions in the hopes of creating feelings (immediate or delayed) of passion, excitement, purpose, love, relief, or any other emotion that make us feel, well, happy.

So what actually makes us happy? This question has plagued philosophers for thousands of years, yet happiness holds no secrets for Dance With Me Student, Mary Lou Quinlan.

As her busy career in advertising in New York City came to an end, Mary Lou had a choice to make, she could quietly slip into a life of conformity or she could choose to pursue happiness. And pursue it she did, through dance!


" As you get older, you find that you get pigeonholed. People think 'Oh she's retired!' , or 'she was this' or 'she should behave in that way or this way.' "

" I don't feel any of those strictures here, [at dance with me] any of it! I feel that they see in me what I see in me which is someone who's a dancer, who's a competitor. I don't look at age here, I don't look at size here, just love alive inside people. "


Learning to dance can seem like a daunting task, at any age. The mind naturally comes up with a million reasons why not to do it.

“I’ve got two left feet.” ” I could fall on my face.” “I have no rhythm.” “I’m too tall.” “I’m too big.” “I’m too old.” “People will laugh at me.”

But dance isn’t about nailing every routine, remembering every step, or trying to be perfect. Dance is about moving your body, connecting with another human, learning new skills, listening to great music,  and most importantly letting go and having fun!

The reality is anyone can do it, and everyone can enjoy it. Music, and consequently dance, is inherently human, and has been a part of all cultures for thousands of years.

" It's easier to conform and do normal stuff like go to the gym, take a walk, play a sport. All of those things can be done without much human contact really. And the most we ever change in our lives is when someone connect with us, and when we're learning. "


What started as a casual hobby, something to keep herself busy, has become a lifestyle that keeps her healthy and happy. Who knew that an introductory lesson would turn into dancing with some of the best dancers in the world. Who could’ve imagined she’d be coached by champions and even competing with the likes of Maks & Val Chmerkovskiy? 

Through the transformative power of dance, Mary Lou is able to connect with herself. The wide range of ballroom dances allows her to reconnect with parts of herself she’d set aside over the years, and discover new ones she never knew existed!



What did you think of Mary Lou’s story? Tell us in the comments below.

If you think this story can inspire someone to pursue happiness in their own way, please share it with a friend. 


Are you ready to dance to healthier & happier you?
start dancing

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Leave a Reply

  • Ivan Oct 8, 2019

    Loved this! Great story. Inspring and full of joy. First time I saw you at summer invitational 2019 your smile said it all! The quote resonated with me and I can see your energy through the camera! So happy you found dance and you have inspired some of my students to smile more!

  • Michele Faulkner Oct 8, 2019

    Great story – very similar to mine
    I took class at Dance with Me in Buckhead Ga
    Loved it!
    I live in sw Florida – we need a studio here !!!!!

  • Louise B Oct 9, 2019

    Hi everyone,

    My story is similar to Mary Lou, same dance background, same age…

    I will continue dancing till the end as she does.

    Mary Lou you are beautifull!!!

    Louise (Québec, Canada)

  • diane m lichtenstein Oct 17, 2019

    I always thought MLQ was a FABULOUS lady! now I am certain I was correct!
    ML, you are a wonderful example of fulfilling life!

  • Mahdi Oct 29, 2019 can I perform in your show?

  • Gwen Jones-Cintron Dec 10, 2019

    I know exactly how you feel! Thanks for sharing. We will never be pigeon-holed at DWM!!!

  • Janet Jan 7, 2020

    Very inspiring story!!! Mary Lou looks absolutely radiant. So happy she found her joy through dancing! I just finished my 2nd lesson at Dance with Me at it definitely has me smiling already. Excited to be on this journey!!!

    • Alix Dufossé Jan 8, 2020

      That’s amazing Janet! We’re so happy to hear you’ve begun your dance journey with us! 🙂

  • Wendy Jan 13, 2020

    I so Love Mary Lou she is radiant. I am 61 & have always been in love with Dance & Music. I danced in my LR with American Bandstand, Soul Train, TV and Music Videos. I took dance as a kid but life got in the way and my dancing has been restricted to weddings, parties and clubs. As I age those opportunities don’t present themselves. I took care of my 3 parents the last 8 years until their passings while working full time. I promised them and myself when I moved back to Vegas in 2019 I would start dancing. On My vision Board for 4 decades has been “live at the beach“ and “take dance“. I can’t live at the beach right now but I can take dance. I have an old knee injury and am 25 pounds overweight but if I don’t start now I never will. No more excuses, I too deserve Joy! I am going to show up This Friday for the mixer in Vegas. Baby steps! Thank you Mary Lou and Dance With Me.

  • Marie and Tony Mascolo Apr 26, 2020

    Hello, Mary Lou !
    We just loved your story. Your happiness when you dance is infectious (but in a good way). We always looked forward to seeing you at DWMSOHO. We hope to see you soon again! And Kudos to DWM for doing this story. Very inspiring. Tony and Marie Mascolo

  • Maximo Mar 13, 2022

    Thank you for the invitation!

  • Bonnie Bergman May 22, 2022

    Ballroom dancing has changed my life . I have lost 80 pounds, found new friends , and a passion for dance. You can find me most nights at the DWM studio in Boca Raton . Thanks for sharing Mary Lou’s story. I am turning 75 next month and plan to keep dancing !

  • Barbara Morris Nov 2, 2022

    I went for an introductory lesson at DWM Fort Worth, Texas a few days ago. It gave me such joy and listening to and watching Mary Lou’s story really resonated with me. I had taken lessons many years ago for quite some time at other studios in other states. Music and dance have always been a big part of my life and yet life happens. Over the last decade I have done very little dancing and have really missed it. I was so happy to get my old dance shoes on and dance again, with a very good instructor! I posted pictures on my Facebook page and talked about the fact that most people have lost touch with what gives them happiness. And I encouraged everyone reading my post to find those things that bring them joy, that make them smile and feel good about themselves. Plus I gave a shoutout to the studio too. I’m looking forward to going and watching the Mini Match there this weekend and then diving back in to my JOY!



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