A Day in the Life of the Ballroom Business

FredAstairelogo.blackgoldI’ve owned Fred Astaire Dance Studio’s only Michigan outlet for 10 years now, and it never gets boring, never feels tired.

I love what I do. Own a ballroom dance studio is a happy business, and it’s ever-changing, always engaging. As a serial entrepreneur, I can honestly say, this is absolutely the most interesting business I’ve been involved in.

It changes all the time. New students come in and start dancing and you can see the joy they glean on the dance floor.

There is no regular routine. There’s the up and down emotional ride of artist-teachers and tentative students. And there’s the upside-down lifestyle that goes along with it – starting work at 11 am and not closing up until 10 pm.

It’s like I’m back in college in a way, staying up late and sleeping late, too. We never watch TV because we’re here all the time, engaged and having fun. Much of our social lives consist of dance competitions, weekend events, travel with our students and teachers.

Funnily enough, now that I own a ballroom dance business, I rarely dance! My wife and I go out dancing only with students or colleagues, like the baker who never eats donuts.

So here’s what it’s like to own a dance studio. I show up Monday through Friday at 11 a.m., although I usually work on marketing for the studio in the earlier morning hours at home. Our teachers arrive around noon to practice for their own competitive dancing.

Dance training happens every day at 1. Our first students start to arrive at 1:45 – and that’s the crew that has flexibility during the day: retired couples, retired individuals, housewives, older adults, and anyone who can find daytime hours for a quick dance lesson.

At 4 o’clock every day, our staff meets, and we spend time on business training. We discuss competitions and individual lessons, talk about how to become better teachers.

Our rush hour launches in earnest at 4:45 p.m., and from then until the last lesson of the night, it’s non-stop. Evening group lessons at 7:45 p.m. attract 20-30 people, and another 25-35 have private lessons sprinkled throughout the day.

A few weeks ago, I was talking with the national president of Fred Astaire Dance Studios, and he asked me how I feel in this business 10 years in.

I said, “There is so much excitement in this business. It’s fun to see the joy in people. This business is always changing, never boring, with music playing, people moving happily across the floor.”

While there are challenges like in any business, I just can’t get enough of ballroom dance. My passion is bringing this energy and joy to people, and I can’t see a better way to do it.