In March, I took a leap and moved from San Francisco to Grants Pass, a town of 34,000 on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon, about half an hour north of Medford on I-5.
I came up here for love, and was lucky enough to find a great job at the local newspaper.
Life is different up here -- I live outside of town and there are cows and chickens on my street, and green hills all around. My summer days went from foggy and freezing to 105 degrees. I can see the Milky Way at night, and I'm more rested and less frazzled. Grants Pass is beautiful, and there is plenty to do - hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, concerts in the park, wine strolls and some good breweries and restaurants.
The only thing missing is a thriving partner dance scene!
There's West Coast Swing dancing in Medford on Thursdays and Saturdays, and salsa on Saturday nights at a little club in Ashland, but that's about an hour away.
There is a wonderful and growing bachata/salsa community based at a local restaurant in Grants Pass, and there are several dance studios offering classes in ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary, especially for children. In addition, there are some adult ballroom classes at community centers, but there's no studio specifically tailored to grown-ups and partner dancing.
The idea to open a studio came to me one day while I was eating lunch at my favorite restaurant, Thai BBQ. The waitress said she overheard me talking about teaching salsa (I had been teaching in Ashland), and she wanted to take a class.
It's been a longtime dream of mine to have a little studio, and to foster a dance community like my favorite studio in the Bay Area, Two Left Feet - a welcoming place for dancers of all ages where everyone knows your name. But in San Francisco, it was unaffordable.
Here, with cheaper rent, my savings and help from this Kickstarter campaign, it's doable. I want to help bring partner dancing to Grants Pass! I'm not alone; there are are other people already working toward this same goal -- I hope to work with them to achieve our shared vision!
I found a wonderful spot for the studio (thanks to my boyfriend Chris and his connections). It's on the second floor of a historic building right downtown, above a bead store and two blocks from where I work. A beautiful loft-like space with lots of light and high ceilings that overlooks Sixth Street, the town's main artery.
There's a restaurant a block away that offers salsa, bachata and cha cha lessons on Tuesdays, and I'd like to complement that and help make downtown a place where people can grab dinner, take a dance lesson, and have a night of dancing.
The studio's initial offerings will be West Coast Swing and salsa, with various other dances added down the line. At least a couple of times I a month there will be dance parties, and there will also be occasional dance- and music-related special events like workshops and film screenings.
I'm on the brink of signing a lease with the landlords, a wonderful father and son both named Jamie. I'm so excited for this that I sometimes can't sleep.
Please support this little dream of mine through Kickstarter, and after that I hope you will come dance with me at the studio!
Risks and challenges
One of the challenges will be running a business for the first time - but I have talked to many people and have done quite a bit of research, so I feel like I have a good idea of what to expect.
A big challenge will be the cost, which includes:
- Dance floor
- Stereo system
- Liability insurance
- Business tax
- State business filings
- Miscellaneous: Chairs, decorations, etc.
One risk is that this campaign will come up short and I will have to meet the full cost myself -- Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, meaning if the fundraising goal isn't met, none of the pledges are collected. Another risk is that I'm overestimating Grants Pass residents' desire to dance.
But I'm willing to take those risks, because I think people here really do want to dance -- and this idea makes me smile every time I think about it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)