Whether you can cut a rug and jitterbug, or resort to corny dance moves like the sprinkler and the cabbage patch, people of all ages dance.
Named after the dance, Murray’s Jitterbug’z Dance Club and Arcade opened July 4.
The building is located at 1306 S. 12th Street. Jitterbug’z is made up of two separate halls, one for the arcade, concessions and party rooms and the other is a large, open room with a dance floor, deejay booth and pool tables on the other end.
The building boasts tinted windows on the outside with hours of operation and amenities they offer inside painted on them.
Bright lime green, firey orange, mellow yellow, electric blue walls and accents welcome guests when they enter the arcade. The dance hall walls are darker for effective lighting when the music is bumping.
Jitterbug’z currently has 10 arcade games and expects to get about 10 more to be delivered throughout the next few months.
There are two rooms available to guests to rent out to play video games on the XBox One or PlayStation 4.
The concessions area offers Coke products and a variety of food options, including hot dogs, nachos and pizza provided by Gatti’s Pizza.
In March, Jitterbug’z owner, Brad Billington, began the process of opening the dance club and arcade. Before opening Jitterbug’z, Billington’s business across the state line lost customers, in part because of the Murray City Council vote to extend drinking hours to 1:30 a.m. in October 2013, he said.
“We previously owned Cosmo’s, which was a bar, in Puryear, Tenn.,” Billington said. “We decided once Murray extended their drinking hours, it kind of hurt business. We thought we could do something to bring the crowd back, but our only other option was to move to Murray and try out the (the dance club and arcade) on the youth first to see how it would go over.”
Billington said Cosmo’s went from 350 to 400 customers every Saturday night to 90 people as soon as the drinking hours were extended.
After three months of renovations, Jitterbug’z opened to the public mid-summer. Billington, his wife and his father-in-law opened the business’ doors to teens for dance nights, birthday parties and as a place to hang out. Billington said, however, the high school and middle school students did not show as much interest as expected.
“We had an issue with the high schoolers and middle schoolers dwelling together,” Billington said. “The high schoolers don’t really want to hang out with the middle schoolers, and that kind of threw us off. But now, we are venturing to many other things.”
In the interest of attracting more faces to Jitterbug’z, Billington and his family members brainstormed ways to have a little something for every age group.
Wednesday night is now host to line dancing for anyone ages 18 and up. Thursday nights are reserved for college students. For now, Friday nights are open for 18 and under.
The business has allowed groups of college students to host dance parties and other events there as well.
“We allowed a fraternity to host a back to school bash and that went over really well,” Billington said. “We had 360 people attend. We stopped at 360 – our capacity is about 400, but I don’t think we should try to fit 400 people in there.”
While the original intent to target the youth in the area did not work out as well for Jitterbug’z, Billington said overall, Jitterbug’z ventures to branch out and bring in more people have been successful.
“I know how it is with new business,” Billington said. “No new business just pops off unless you’re the Cook Out and you just get lucky one day when McDonald’s is shut down. Something new like this takes a little while to catch on. The good thing is we don’t get the same kids every Friday. We are starting to see new faces.”
Billington said he looks forward to the opportunities he will have to expand the business and provide a place to cut a rug for not only college students, but the entire community.
Story by Hunter Harrell, Features Editor