Ask Me Anything: David Andrichik, Bar Owner

Many know Andrichik as the guy who’s owned the Chatterbox—a jazz dive bar, in his words—on Mass Ave for 41 years. He’s also a longtime patron of the Indianapolis dance scene. He just took things a step further by starting tap dance lessons at age 73. Here’s what he shared about his new moves.
Photography by Tony Valainis

You’re known to be active. You walk or bike everywhere. You play golf. But tap dancing? Has this been on your bucket list?
No, never, not at all! It wouldn’t be until later in life, just a few years ago, that I developed an appreciation for it.

What changed and prompted this new desire?
Politics were involved. We always have the TV on at the Chatterbox. My preference has always been political news programs, but during the Trump administration, it became a bit overwhelming to see and hear all the time. So we switched it to the Turner Classic Movies channel. It has a lot of those old musicals with tap dancing, and that was the initial inspiration. It was so much fun to watch, like, Wow, how do they do that?

So you made the leap from watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly to buying tap shoes and signing up for lessons at Dance Kaleidoscope in the Circle City Industrial Complex.
Tap dancing actually lends itself well to jazz, which, no surprise, I listen to every day. There’s also a new artistic director at Dance Kaleidoscope, and they’re putting a greater emphasis on classes for adults. Since the studio is close to me and I’ve been a longtime supporter, I wanted to go there. So, yes, I signed up with two female friends, who are novices like me, and we all gave it a try.

Photography by Tony Valainis

Your first class was in February. How did it go?
There were a dozen of us at all levels of experience, but the instructor was great. She was able to challenge everyone while giving pointers to those of us not picking it up right away—namely, me. It was both difficult and fun. I’ve always said I can ‘wedding dance,’ meaning I can move OK to music played by a DJ or a live band, but that’s certainly not tap dancing.

What’s the hardest part?
Marking the rhythm. Tap is rhythmic. It’s making that sound of heel, toe, sweep, back and forth. You’re hitting your heel down to make the distinctive sound, which is the beginning of a beat. I liken it to drumming in a way. While I’m not a drummer, I can anticipate what a drummer’s going to do because I listen to them all the time. With tap, I have to remember that my feet are the percussion instruments. It’s been fascinating to see how the sound and movement of tap work together.

Photography by Tony Valainis

It must be fairly physically demanding.
Dancers of any type are true athletes first and movement artists second. Whether it’s the women in pointe shoes, or the contemporary dancers who are flipping, or ballroom dancers in pairs, they have to be absolutely fit. I’ve seen a lot of classes and rehearsals at Dance Kaleidoscope, and it’s like 100 hours of practice for a four-hour performance. You have to perfect it, again and again. Tap is proving no exception!

These lessons are a spinoff of your commitment to the arts. You’re a financial supporter of, among others, the Phoenix Theater, the Indiana Repertory Theatre, and the Indianapolis Ballet. You often have colleagues and customers join you as your guests.
I love to share what I love. If I buy two tickets, it’s a date. If I buy four, six, or eight, there’s an entertainment component. And there’s overlap … one kind of art form can support another. It’s just really great to share with multiple people along the way. The depth of talent in Indianapolis is phenomenal. Yet it’s still a best-kept secret. Participating and sharing are easy and enjoyable ways to spread the good word.

Photography by Tony Valainis

National Tap Dance Day, apparently, is May 25. Should we expect a recital?
Ha! I don’t think so. There’s no recital on my horizon. But you might see me practicing, or at least tapping my foot, when I’m at the door of the Chatterbox.

And if not?
Well, we always have four beers on tap. Ba-dum-bum.