In July 2021, when the Press banner reported that Richard Myers and his wife Marianne were planning to open a ballroom dancing studio in Scotts Valley, the pandemic seemed to be waning.
There was a sense of anticipation at their Arthur Murray location in Fremont, as they had just reopened group classes and were anticipating their move to the ocean.
“Any time you open a new business, there’s always some nervous energy around it,” Richard said, adding that the ensuing third wave of coronavirus was not the news he was hoping for. “Omicron kind of put a damper on that.”
The franchise is named after the American businessman (born Moses Teichman in Austria-Hungary) who began teaching dance in 1912. His students included John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt. (In the movie “Dirty Dancing,” Patrick Swayze’s character tells Jennifer Gray that he got his start in dancing thanks to Arthur Murray.)
For their part, the Myers are decorated dance champions who recently hung up their competitive shoes to focus on the entrepreneurial side of the kinetic world. But Richard says that while Omicron presented a new challenge, it wasn’t totally unexpected. And anyway, they’ve been planning a move to Santa Cruz County for years and they say they’re in it for the long haul.
Just weeks after announcing the Scotts Valley location plan, they quietly opened their doors at Graham Plaza and began building their roster of student dancers. They teach everything from swing to salsa to tango.
In December, they held their grand opening, just before Omicron came on strong.
“It’s slowed us down in terms of people trying to get in,” he said, adding that the key now will be to get people out of the sedentary habits developed during the pandemic. “Now we’re starting to see people are a lot more interested.”
They plan to do an open house in the next few days to introduce the community to what they do.
Dance classes make a great date idea and are great for professionals looking for a way to switch gears, he said.
“It’s a good way to distract them from a stressful day,” he said. “It’s also for people who have been waiting a long time to dance and it’s on their bucket list.”
For Richard, “if I was younger” and “if I had the time” are not valid excuses.
Richard noted that the first dance lesson is free and explained that there are group lessons on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays at 8:15 p.m.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to try it out,” he said. “No pressure.”