I heard some news this week. At first I wasn’t sure if I believed the news or not. The person I heard it from had gotten the news from someone else, who had gotten it from yet another person, and there was no source given on who that person had heard it from. Normally I try to take things that I hear third- or fourth-hand with a huge grain of salt, but with everything going on (or should I say, not going on) in the world of ballroom dancing, this news seemed entirely plausible. Sad, but plausible.
The news I heard was that three major studios in my area were going to close their doors for good: the City Dance Hall, the Fancy Dance Hall, and the Prime Dance Hall. One of these shocked me when I first heard this, but the other two didn’t really surprise me. Over the last few years, I had been told by people who know about the ballroom business in my part of the world that the majority owner of the Prime Dance Hall was finally looking to retire and get out of the business. She supposedly was looking to sell her shares in the Prime Dance Hall, but her asking price for the business was substantial, so no one had taken her up on the opportunity
The Fancy Dance Hall, on the other hand, I think I’ve mentioned some of their problems on this site before. When they opened (only four or five years ago, I think), they had a strong instructor base and the students of one of those instructors in particular spent A LOT of money at the studio. There was a falling out between some of those instructors, and the one that brought in the most money for the studio left to go teach elsewhere in town. After that happened, there were a lot of times that the Fancy Dance Hall struggled to pay its monthly bills without one of the wealthier owners who wasn’t a dance instructor stepping in to give them money to cover everything. The business was hanging in there, but just barely.
Of the three of them, the City Dance Hall was the one that shocked me. I had met the owners before, a wealthier couple who didn’t teach, but loved to dance. They brought in a number of highly ranked instructors who people loved, and they always seemed to have a bunch of events going on at the studio to bring in money. Since the owners were pretty well-off, I would have imagined that they of all places could have kept the business afloat for some time until the state started to allow their business to return to operation.
So while hearing about these three studios earlier this week was sad and shocking, it was still just a rumor that I wasn’t entirely convinced was the truth… until yesterday. Yesterday someone showed me a notice that the owners of the City Dance Hall put on their website saying that they really did close down the studio effective the last day of June. Their reasoning was that, due to the pandemic significantly altering the safety concerns of partner dancing, they did not see a way to bring back operations for their business that would be able to cover their expenses until such a time that either a cure or a vaccine would be available to get rid of this virus. Since that’s not likely for some time yet, they made the tough decision to close down for good.
Then, literally this morning before I left for work, the owners of the Fancy Dance Hall sent out an email to everyone on their mailing list to let us all know that they, too, would be closing their doors permanently effective June 30th, for similar reasons. That makes two confirmed. There has been no notice from anyone at the Prime Dance Hall as of yet, but if two of the three that I heard the rumor about have already made the news official, I think it might be just a matter of time before we hear from someone at the Prime Dance Hall that they are also closing.
This is going to significantly change the dance landscape in my area. There were a lot of instructors that taught at these three studios that now won’t have a dance floor to go back to. Only four major and a couple of minor studios that are not franchise operations remain in my area (I live around a major city in the U.S.). I don’t know how all of these instructors are going to be absorbed into the rosters for all those studios. I think we might see a number of them hang up their dance shoes if there isn’t space or students for them to teach, which is sad. Especially if they have other jobs or job prospects to fall back on that would keep them safe from getting sick.
But I think this is only the beginning of changes that we are going to see because of this virus going around. These are not the first businesses I’ve seen that have had to close down because of the change in the world, and I’m sure they won’t be the last. Have you walked around your neighborhood lately? In mine, it seems like I see another house going up for sale everyday that I’m out, which makes me think that many of my neighbors are out or work and can’t afford to live near me anymore. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning on going anywhere this weekend, even though it’s a major holiday. There are a few large gatherings that are still happening around my area, but I’m just not interested in attending any of them. Staying at home in quiet reflection of everything that is going on seems more appropriate this year.
Everything is in flux at the moment. I hope that you have been able to find a little stability to hold onto in your part of the world. This month and next month are going to be rough, I imagine, now that governments are pulling back the things that they gave to people to help them get through this viral instability. There is further fallout yet to be seen, and I don’t think it’s going to be positive.
What will things look like on the other side? How many dance studios will actually survive? Will the next generation of dancers not exist for a while because colleges will transition to mostly online classes, thus killing off their college ballroom teams that were a major source of younger people in the dance community? Does any of this even matter when people are losing their jobs and homes at an alarming rate because it is not safe for our consumer economy to go back to some semblance of normal?
I guess we won’t know until we know.
Please, stay safe and have a good holiday weekend. Maybe there doesn’t seem like much to celebrate about this year, but we still have each other. That’s always something to be thankful for. I will light up a sparkler for you, and hope that its light brings you a little bit of joy in these weird days we have ahead of us.