Studio One ballroom celebrates 10 years
In 2006, Luke Scherba felt that Chico’s nightlife was lacking. Sure, the dance instructor/studio owner freely admits, you can go to bars every night, but he believed Chico yearned for something more.
“I saw a need for it in town, something fun,” Scherba said during an interview inside his Studio One ballroom on a recent Tuesday night. “I wanted to provide a safe, fun alternative for people to go out and have some kind of entertainment.”
Scherba, then 25, opened Studio One Ballroom in July of 2006 during the “height of the economy.” Then, a couple of years later, everything crashed. “The economy sucked,” he said. “They say every millionaire has gone bankrupt three times on average. So I’m pretty close to being a millionaire then.”
But the studio stayed afloat, moving twice—its original location was on Mangrove Avenue, then it spent two years inside Chico Creek Dance Centre—before settling into its current location on the corner of Wall and Seventh streets five years ago. And Studio One will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a party on Saturday, Sept. 3, with food, dueling pianos and, of course, dancing.
“We’ve made it this far. I don’t anticipate us closing down anytime soon,” Scherba said. “We’ll be open for the next 50 years. If we can make it through that, we are fine.”
It was salsa night when we talked, and dance instructors yelled out time across the wood-floored ballroom as student dancers tapped their feet back and forth in rhythm and swayed their hips to the beat.
Studio One features swing, Latin and ballroom dancing—which are all umbrella terms for about 20 different subgenres that the studio’s instructors teach six days a week. The studio is open in the evenings and it costs $12 ($10 for students and seniors) to drop in on a group class—no partner needed. Friday nights feature a club-style dance after lessons, and Saturdays are the Latin Dance Party ($7 for lessons; $7 for dancing each night). There also are monthly membership plans, as well as private lessons available.
“This is the only real place to dance in town,” Scherba said. “Going to [a bar] is fine, I’m all for that. But it’s just a different vibe. It’s not a partner dance. It’s not a structured dance. It’s a shake and wiggle.”
Scherba said that Studio One’s dance instructors routinely compete in national and international competitions and that the facility probably has a combined experience level of just under 100 years among its instructors.
“This is a good way to get people out together and a healthy way to interact.” he said. “I oftentimes say, ‘Where else can you go hold someone else’s hand for 30 minutes and have it not be creepy?’ It really establishes a way for humans to connect in a healthy way.”
People connecting is the secret to the studio’s success, Scherba said. Without the community and the culture, it would have been hard to maintain his “expensive hobby,” he explained.
“We really want to create a positive environment to forget about work, forget about the stresses of relationships or whatever is going on outside, and come here and enjoy the music and the movement on the floor.”