Meet Caley Carr: Professional Tap Dancer with a Memorable Mustache

Huntington beach native Caley Carr first stole America's hearts when he auditioned for "So You Think You Can Dance" back in 2012. Along with his inventive tap dance moves, Carr showed off his eccentric surfer vibe and memorable mustache.

Since then, Caley Carr, 33, has danced in several viral Youtube videos, had a solo in a Nissan commercial and provided choreography and creative direction to top names like Disney, "Good Morning America," "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and Hennessy.

Often working alongside his wife and fellow dancer Kelsey Carr, the couple collaborated with celebrity choreographer "Dancing With the Stars" alum Derek Hough in 2016. Together, they worked as contributing choreographers on Hough's Emmy-nominated routine "Kairos."

Keep reading to learn more about Carr and how he keeps his mustache arguably as fresh as his dance moves.

Tapping into the dance world with style

Zeus Beard shares Caley Carr feature on mustaches

Photo via Instagram / @caleycarr

In his audition tape for "So You Think You Can Dance," Caley Carr explains he found dance through his sister and mom. After becoming a regular at his sister's dance practices, his mom suggested he hone his hyper nature into dance moves of his own. After all, as he pointed out in the clip, he was already there!

Thankfully, mom's suggestion turned into a flourishing career for Carr. Starting out as a break dancer in high school, Caley Carr soon craved new styles and knowledge. "Tap dancing took the cake," he told Zeus.

By 25-years-old, the seasoned dancer knew he wanted to take things to the professional level. Ditching his job as a bartender and his lazy days on the beach, Carr headed to Los Angeles to audition for season nine of "So You Think You Can Dance."

Auditions and the start of the 'stache

At this point, his iconic mustache also joined the scene. Shortly before leaving to LA for the audition, Carr went on a big surfing trip where he grew out his beard for a month.
I thought it would be funny if I shaved everything and left a mustache. At the time it was a small handle bar mustache but it was enough to catch the attention of Cat Deeley who was the host during the ninth "So You Think You Can Dance" season. -Caley Carr

During his initial audition, Carr used his combined dance background, performing to "Somebody That I Used to Know" and was quickly a favorite among the judges. He advanced to the choreography round.

Guest judge Jesse Tyler Ferguson kicked off critiques, complimenting Carr as a "crazy-mash-up of a person who has so many weird talents" that kept the actor-turned-judge entertained. Ferguson continued, calling the then 25-year-old tap dancer "fantastic" and explaining Carr has a "light within" and a "smile that is illuminating." Judges Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe also complimented his confidence and "fresh" style, deeming his performance "terrific."

To watch Caley Carr's "So You Think You Can Dance" audition performance, check it out here.

Finding a partner to dance through life with

Zeus Beard shares Caley Carr feature on mustaches

Photo via Instagram / @kelseymccowan

Shortly after appearing on "So You Think You Can Dance," Caley Carr met a new dance partner, his now wife Kelsey McCowan.

"It's amazing working side by side with your wife," Carr said.

He explained the two met in Vegas while working on separate dance projects seven years ago.

Thankful for his mustache that was once cut as a joke, Carr said it was actually the thing that peaked his wife's interest in the first place. Looking for a dance partner with a vintage vibe, Caley's talent and style completely fit Kelsey's bill.
The reason my wife reached out six months after we met was because of my mustache. She wanted to recreate a Fred and Ginger kind of vibe. She doesn't even know me without a mustache. -Caley Carr

Zeus Beard shares Caley Carr feature on mustaches

Photo via Instagram / @caleyandkelsey

Reminiscent of 1930s dancing stars Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, the couple exudes both dance talent and a classic classiness.

He makes me feel like the happiest girl on the planet! And my God, that 'stache is just so damn sexy," Kelsey wrote on her Instagram page in 2015 alongside Caley's picture for Man Crush Monday.

Dancing together ever since, the talented couple married in the summer of 2018.

When they aren't tapping away on stage, Caley likes to catch some waves on his surfboard or take Kelsey swing dancing.

Maintaining the 'stache on stage

Zeus Beard shares Caley Carr feature

Photo via Instagram / @caleycarr

Being married to a fellow performer also comes with some extra advantages, like getting useful on-stage hair styling tips. Carr said his wife taught him one tip that always keeps his hair and 'stache looking suave.

One secret I do have, that my wife let me in on, is that day old dirty hair styles way better than fresh-washed. So, if I know I have a gig or something I need to film, I won't wash my hair the day before. -Caley Carr

In addition to letting his hair build up a day's worth of oil for on-stage styling, Carr explained his love of surfing helps give his style the extra edge. "Ocean water gives my hair crazy body," he said. With many texturizing hair sprays utilizing sea salt to boost curls and provide beach waves, Carr taps into the natural version of the trend.

However, even with these insider tips, stages and sets often come with hot lights and inevitable sweat. When he needs a stronger hold while working, Carr reaches for his Zeus Clay Pomade.
I'm a fan of pomades with extra firm hold. I really enjoy the Clay Pomade from Zeus. It keeps my 'stache in place the whole time I'm on set or on stage. -Caley Carr

When constantly performing, Caley Carr faces another common facial hair issue when he steps off stage: dry hair. To combat frizziness and split ends, he trades trims for added moisture.

"Honestly I never trim my mustache. As far as mustache hair health, I rely on my Zeus beard oil. It nourishes my 'stache and gives it a mellow hold for styling," Carr explained.

When personal style meets mustache

Zeus Beard shares Caley Carr feature on mustaches

Photo via Instagram / @caleycarr

When it came to finding his ideal mustache style, Carr explained his process involved trial and error and a lot of patience. Before deciding on a variant of the handlebar mustache, he experimented with other styles, even shaving it all off and starting over at times.

"One of the tougher parts is fully committing to it and really letting it grow out so you can see it at its best. I would say the hardest part is after three months with your little buddy growing and keeping your top lip warm and then admitting to yourself that this isn't the one," Carr said, explaining shaving can be "a little gut-wrenching" during the process.

Ultimately, Carr found that a full handlebar mustache with upturned corners ideally fit his face and vibe.

The Handlebar Mustache

The handlebar mustache grew in popularity after World War II. In 1947, English comedian Jimmy Edwards started the Handlebar Club. The group intended to bring mustached men together for friendship and charity purposes. When it came to incorporating his personal style into his mustache choice, Carr brought his love for the time period to the forefront.
As far as my vintage vibe, it completely played a role. My love for the 1940s and this 'stache go hand in hand. -Caley Carr

The World Beard and Moustache Championships describes Carr's specific handlebar style as an imperial mustache. An imperial mustache is "small and bushy with the tips curled upward," according to the competition's website. Its curved style takes most men about three to six months to grow in fully.

Other online beard experts deem the handlebar and imperial mustaches separate styles, despite both versions curling at the corners. They argue the imperial version is often the more rugged low-maintenance mustache, while the traditional handlebar mustache is more heavily styled with wax.

Zeus Beard shares Caley Carr feature on mustaches

Unsure if you can rock this style or other mustache variants? "The only way to know for certain is by growing it out and seeing that 'stache on your face," Carr advises mustache hopefuls.

Zeus Beard shares Caley Carr feature on mustaches


  • Posted by Gordon Ghareeb on

    Caley – You sailed with us on the s.s. LANE VICTORY for several years and entertained our passengers on countless cruises. Cornell was back onboard last month dancing for our “Spirit of ’45” celebration and we talked about you and the old days. So very happy to see that you have hit the big time and are making waves in the dance world. I always enjoyed watching you tap dance aboard ship and chatting with you when time permitted. Here’s to your continued success as a master of your art. Take care, old friend, and God bless… Gordon.

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