Juan Carlos Mora is known around town as “JC” and “the Zumba guy.” “I don’t even think anyone even knows my real name,” he said. Mora was born and raised in Mexico, and although his love for music and dancing started long before he came to Marathon, the art of dance translated well in his new home. He moved to the United States when he was 18 with a degree from Mexico as a technical engineer. He now spends his days teaching Zumba at Body Language Studio and working as a retail cashier at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina.
After about a year and half, he picked up English pretty well. “All the classes I took when I was a kid wasn’t even close to the English here,” he said.
“He is such a wonderful person filled with kindness in his heart, the joy of dance in his body, and the love of friends, old and new,” said fellow Zumba instructor Darla Snyder. The two recently did a Zumba dance fundraiser for Hurricane Irma relief. “He’s the first person to say ‘let me show you’ — be it a new routine, or the latest app on your phone.”
How did you get involved with Zumba?
You know I love to dance, it is one of my passions and a friend of mine told me about Zumba classes and took me to my first class seven years ago.
A recent Zumba fundraiser raised more than $2,000 for Hurricane Irma relief?
I like a good cause, and to help people, and to be involved in the community. With the help of my other friends and Zumba instructors from the Miami area and throughout the Keys, we gave the community a little something back.
How did you get into dancing?
Since as long as I can remember, I have always, always loved to dance. I love music and I try to remember all the lyrics for every single song and try the make new choreography for the songs.
What is the most rewarding experience being a dance instructor?
The most rewarding thing is when people tell me they’ve been taking my classes for a while, and they feel better and can do things they couldn’t do before due to health issues that the exercising is helping with.
How many children have you taught dance to?
I have been teaching kids how to dance since I was in high school, so for more than 15 years — oh my God, I feel so old now — and love surprise dances, sweet sixteens, school functions, etc.
How many adults?
Not as many as kids, but I always tell people not to be afraid to try it.
What’s your best advice for a beginner dancer?
“Always the first class is the worst.”
Favorite song to dance to?
I don’t have a specific one, but I love the rhythm in Soca and samba.
Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating … who walks in and sits next to you?
I’m eating caldo de pollo (chicken stew) with my grandfather who passed away last year.
Favorite Keysy thing to do?
I like playing tourist in Key West; there’s something about walking Duval Street.
What would your superpower be?
After all this rain the past couple weeks, I would like to control the weather like Storm from “X-Men.”
Best piece of advice you ever received?
Just “do me.” Forget about other people’s opinions and imaginary boundaries, and just be yourself and do what makes you happy.
If you could take one item on a deserted island, what?
A solar radio, or a radio with A LOT of batteries.
What was your first thought this morning?
Coffee, and get up because you have to work.
Favorite guilty pleasure?
Tacos and watching TV shows on Netflix or Hulu late at night.
If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do/buy?
A huge house with a lot of space for friends and dancing.
If you could change the world, what would you do?
I would like to change people’s mindsets; less negativity and more positive thinking would do wonders.
Favorite place you’ve traveled to? Or, lived?
Las Vegas, filled with lights and dancing.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Wait, what? I’m a still trying to decide.
Favorite place to dance?
The Marathon Ale House.
Finish these sentences…
My friends would describe me as … crazy and fun.
Ivana Micovic, my BFF, would describe me as … loyal. We have shared numerous gossips, tears, happy moments, hurricanes. The best term is “friend who has become family.”
My autobiography would be titled … ”I need more time.”
Marathon is like … a beautiful small town with an endless summer and a melting pot of cultures.
I live by the motto … live life to the fullest.