Grab your dancing shoes, and get ready to step-together-step, slow-quick-quick and side-together-side — a new Arthur Murray studio is opening soon near downtown Napa
Long before “Dancing with the Stars,” there was the “Arthur Murray Party,” a popular television show that my parents adored and watched devotedly over the 10 years of its run. My siblings and I thought the show was terribly square, but history proved us wrong. Arthur Murray’s legacy is alive and thriving.
Murray and his wife Kathryn were the quintessential, perfectly miss-matched (height-wise) dancing couple gliding effortlessly across the ballroom floor. Their flair and expertise made the waltz, rumba and fox trot look deceptively easy — and made it appear that with just a few lessons, we too could master those steps, even with two left feet.
If one of Murray’s 350 internationally-franchised studios was not accessible, there were instructions by mail that could be purchased, complete with sets of meticulously-numbered footprints and dance patterns described in written instructions. More than 5 million dance kits were sold.
“What’s cool is that we believe it’s more than just dancing,” said Cara Recine, studio director for Arthur Murray sites in Napa and Santa Rosa. “People come through our doors, not just to pursue dancing but the other benefits dancing can bring such as meeting people, enjoying social activities, exercise, overcoming shyness and to make someone happy.”
Recine found an Arthur Murray studio in her hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin at age 17. She entered the teacher training program and, with a cadre of instructors, can now accommodate many of the two studio’s most popular requests, such as salsa, waltz, tango, cha cha, swing and country western.
The studio offers a 30-minute lesson for free in a private session to assess each individual’s need and tailor a program that works for a participant’s time and budget. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 707-819-3024.
“We have three tenets of teaching,” said Recine. “Practice parties, private parties and group classes. Anyone can learn, and it really depends on the amount of time you put into it. One key factor in learning is determination. We have students from ages 8 to 80, and we tailor our teaching to each individual.”
For the next few months, classes will continue at the Napa Women’s Club clubhouse (218 Franklin St.) — the current “pop up” location — while permits are being secured and renovation plans finalized for the newly repurposed, 2,000 square foot Arthur Murray Napa ballroom.
“We’ve only been in Napa for the past six months,” Recine said, “and we’re looking forward to establishing a home base in a permanent space that can also accommodate administrative offices. Our location will be 929 Vallejo where we’ll be housed in the old Perry’s Auto-Marine boat repair and storage building. And, we’ll make the new studio available for rentals as well.”
If your feet are itching to dance a la Arthur Murray style, hop on the sculpture named “Cha Cha Cha,” embedded, stainless steel footsteps with diagrammatic instructions, located on the Main Street sidewalk in front of the Riverfront. Southern California artist Robin Murez donated the interactive exhibit to the City of Napa after it won the 2014 Napa ARTwalk People’s Choice Award.
Another terrific option for dancing and socializing with others who love to dance is the 51-years strong Napa Ballroom Dancers. The all-volunteer nonprofit helps promote and provide ballroom and social dancing in the Napa Valley. Bands and DJ’s play music to fit a wide variety of dance styles with monthly dances and occasional instruction open to all. Visit their website at: www.napaballroomdancers.com.
“Why Be A Wallflower?” asks Arthur Murray in his ads for dance lessons. Why, indeed!