So, who is that guy often found bustin’ moves all around The Peacock, along Monroe, or often on campus? He’s a favorite among OSU students and seems to have earned, quite understandably, the name Dancing Mike.
Complete with fluid arm motions and the splits, Mike Ambrosios is always excited about showing off his skills and can often be found in the middle of dance circles. He has become very well-known for engaging others with his friendly personality and often invites others to dance with him, and many do.
Corvallis is a place that is known to welcome many different sorts of people. The resulting diversity of welcomed souls makes for a unique community atmosphere, so there’s room for someone like Dancing Mike and others that impact us in a positive, even if unusual way.
“I have talked to Mike several times, the first was last year in the spring,” said Eric Pauli, a senior at OSU. “Ultimately when I’ve talked to him it has been about combat training, dancing, and really just about using other senses. He is very philosophical and I enjoy talking to him when I get the chance.”
Pauli added, “I have danced around with him a little bit and it was fun. He is very instructive and is not shy about trying to dance with you. He likes to move his arms a lot when he dances in like a wave motion.”
Dancing Mike’s tattered clothes and grown-out beard have led many people to assume he is homeless or on drugs or both, that his dances are substance-fueled. However, this Corvallis icon is quite the opposite.
“People who come up and talk to me often ask if I’m drunk or high, and I’m not. I know I may look high or homeless but I’m completely sober,” Ambrosios said. “I don’t smoke marijuana, I have dyslexia so I don’t want to be even more confused. I also don’t care for the smell of it. Most people are fun to talk to, though.”
Dancing Mike currently lives alone in an apartment near Fred Meyer. A program called Housing for Unemployed and Disabled (HUD) helps pay three-quarters of Ambrosios’ rent.
Ambrosios was born in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1971. He, along with his two younger sisters, were adopted by a military family at a very early age and they moved across the country to Albuquerque, New Mexico where Ambrosios spent most of his life until he was 20. In 1991 he and his sisters moved to Corvallis after years of dealing with intense family problems.
“Unfortunately my sisters and I had a tough childhood growing up. We had a very abusive adoptive father and our mother would never stand up to him. It would get really bad, and even physical sometimes,” said Ambrosios. “So after 20 years I got tired of it. My sisters and I packed up and came to Corvallis on a bus from New Mexico. I also have a son and an ex-wife who live in Texas.”
Even after dealing with some of life’s toughest battles, Dancing Mike has always found a way to keep a cheerful spirit and energize the people that surround him when he dances.
“I started dancing because I was bored and I wanted to do something different,” said Ambrosios. “I really didn’t think it would go anywhere but I’m glad people like it so much. The Peacock is my favorite place to dance at. I really enjoy Western Wednesday but sometimes I don’t like the music, it’s too fast. I like dancing slower because you learn more.”
Around the Oregon State community, students love Dancing Mike and cheer him on whenever he is seen. When Mike is not dancing, he can be found gaming on the computers in the Valley Library or socializing at Interzone on Monroe Avenue. Wherever he goes, Dancing Mike Ambrosios creates a fun and exciting atmosphere..
By Greg Germano