Pacific Ballroom Dance studio expanding, sets grand opening Jan. 4

  • Thursday, December 12, 2019 10:12pm
  • News

Pacific Ballroom Dance continues to grow.

The Auburn dance education studio, at 1604 15th St. SW, No. 109, has reached its capacity with youth and adult programs, and leaders have decided to expand next door and double the square footage.

PBD hosts a grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 4, from 6 to 10 p.m., to celebrate the new look.

Executive Director Heather Longhurst led the move to access the neighboring unit in the building when it became available to rent.

“When it became very clear that the additional costs of rent utilities and maintenance of a new space was beyond a sustainable budget, Heather had a truly brilliant idea,” said PBD staff member Anne Eugenio. “She brought our team together, using the graphic design skills of Katie Mecham, the financial reports from our accountant Richard Hardesty and my own skills as communications and development specialist, to craft a beautiful proposal for a five-year capacity-building grant.”

In Longhurst’s own words, “It was a last, Hail Mary attempt at an expansion we couldn’t do on our own.”

The proposal was presented to PBD’s regular donors, a foundation that prefers to remain anonymous, and was approved within a week. The capacity-building grant will support PBD as it grows into the new space, giving the studio the time needed to develop the programs and teams that will sustain the additional cost of an expanded space, PBD said.

“The first year of costs is completely covered and each following year the support gradually decreases until we stand on our own in five years’ time,” Eugenio said. The total contribution at the end of this time will be $381,000.

“It is an incredible gift and we are humbled, encouraged and overwhelmingly grateful,” Longhurst said.

The studio expansion project will add another large ballroom for teams and classes, a kitchen, changing rooms, bathrooms, office space, a meeting room and a large lobby area. PBD will add programs and teams gradually over the years, starting off with a Dancing Classrooms Academy for fifth- and sixth-graders and swing and salsa nights every week for adults.

The expanded space will allow PBD to host special events and potentially, competitions.

In December, PBD has been gathering volunteers and supplies to paint, decorate and outfit the space to look like a dance studio.

“Our grant covers only a small portion of the costs of renovations, but luckily, little is needed besides paint, dance floors, mirrors and a drinking fountain in the new ballroom,” studio manager MJ Lee said. “In time, and with more funding, a curtain against the back wall will add insulation and warmth. There is also work to do in the lobby area including creating seating, building a front desk and installing doors connecting the old and new spaces, among other things.”

Youth Premier dancers Brandon Maner and Mason Hunt will help improve the new space as part of their Eagle Scout projects. Maner will build the front desk and some benches, and Hunt will install the specialized dance floor and mirrors. Parent McKenzie Dickson is rallying a group of parents to create a special homework and study area in the lobby.

The grand opening celebration will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony, mini-dance lessons, facility tours and an epic Battle of the Dad Bands featuring Mike and the In-laws and Bradley and the Outsiders. The dad bands feature parents of some of the dancers at the studio: David Remer, Dave Wilcox and Scott Nelson.

Schedule of events for Jan. 4 grand opening:

6 p.m. – Ribbon Cutting, tour, snacks and socializing

7-10 p.m. – Battle of the Dad Bands and social dancing

8 p.m. – Special Latin showcase

9 p.m. – Special ballroom showcase

There will also be several short social dance lessons throughout the night.

Learn more at

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