Meet David Tlaiye of Social

Social Eatery & Bar, or Social, is just off the beaten path of downtown Sarasota. The food is updated Italian-American comfort; the look is sleek with polished concrete floors and metal stools. But the sexiest design element is in the back.

 

That’s where you’ll also find two fire pits, several couches under a million stars and craft bartender David Tlaiye.

The selection isn’t typical. A focus on small batch liquors makes your Captain and Coke a Siesta Key Rum and Coke, for instance. And Tlaiye, 32, isn’t your typical bartender. The New Orleans native is also a dancer with the Sarasota Ballet.

Tlaiye will be retiring from the Sarasota Ballet following the company's performances August 8-13 at the The Joyce Theater in New York but you can still catch him at Social.

How did you get into ballet?

My sister was taking lessons and I would have to sit around and wait for her so I’d get in trouble in the yard next door. The teacher dared me to take a class, and at 11 years old, I wanted to meet any dare head on. I found it boring at first but I got better. At 16 I went to Texas to train at the Houston Ballet Academy. My sister quit after high school.

What’s the biggest misconception about male ballet dancers?

That we’re all gay and we dance on our tippy toes. People don’t even ask me about the tights first. They want to know about the “tippy toes.”

Do ballet dancers party?

Yes. Most dancers drink. They come to Social to see me. The girls like French 75s and the guys like grapefruit Old Fashioneds.

Have you ever performed with a hangover?

Yes. It’s not fun at all. But I still didn’t drop Clara (the main character) during a rehearsal of “The Nutcracker” during a really bad hangover.

If someone were to see one ballet in their lifetime, which should it be?

Not “The Nutcracker.” If you’re tired of princesses and fairies, I recommend “Manon.” It’s about a French prostitute who gets sold to a rich man but she falls in love with another younger man. She runs off to New Orleans and the young man follows her but she dies. There’s a drunk “pas de deux” performance in a brothel that I really like.

What do you drink?

I like tequila. Neat, with a beer chaser.

If you could abolish one dance move, what would it be?

Probably that new “running man.” Whatever happened to the MC Hammer one?

If you could abolish one drink, what would it be?

At Social, I would say our beer cocktails. The “Redhead” beer cocktail takes a lot to make: crushed ice, jam, muddled fruit. Then there’s the layering and shaking. It looks like a sunset if you do it nicely. I hate it.

Where do you go out?

I love the cocktails at Jack Dusty. I also have an addiction to Pho Cali.

What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring ballet dancers?

It demands a lot of commitment often at the cost of a social life, so when they perform, some dancers end up having to imitate emotions they’ve never experienced. How can you be a Juliet if you’ve never loved? Remember to live your life outside of dance, too, since it will make your performances more meaningful.

What’s the most special moment you’ve had on stage?

It was a Johnny Cash ballet. My grandfather had recently died and the last dance was to Cash’s cover of the song “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. I wasn’t consciously thinking of my granddad but I was crying and swept up in the performance. Afterwards people told me I had them in tears. My grandparents were a big part of me pursuing the arts.

How would you survive the zombie apocalypse?

I would move to Canada with plenty of canned goods. I actually have a book about it that says to get a Winchester rifle for good shots to the head and a crowbar also for smashing heads or to get into locked spaces.

SOCIAL EATERY & BAR
1219 First St., Sarasota; 941-444-7072; socialonfirst.com

Contact Kim Doleatto with information on your favorite local bartender at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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