Dance News

UPDATED 11/4: Out with the old, in with the new…

Step-Up Ballroom is back in business.

Now located in Mountain View at 215 Moffett Blvd, Step-Up Ballroom is offering Ballroom, Salsa, Argentine Tango, and West Coast Swing classes.

See the Step-Up Ballroom class calendar

They are offering Step-Up Specials for November only including:

  • Try your 1st group class and social free!
  • Get your 1st Private Lesson 50% off!!
  • Special Pricing on All Sunday & Monday Group Classes
    • $10 for 1 class, $15 for 2 classes, $25 for 3 classes
    • $5 Arg Tango Practica
  • Special Pricing on Friday Night Salsa/WCS Class and Social
    • $10 class, $15 class & social, $5 social only

Stepup website


UPDATE 10/10: Opening postponed to November. New venue to be announced.  Masonic venue CANCELLED. 

Raffaele Sabato

In a follow up interview with Raffaele, he talks about the cancellation of the events scheduled at the Masonic.

Apparently, the handshake agreement with Masonic which they originally expected to have a completed contract on the move-in date, that Thursday 10/8, was unceremoniously cancelled via email instead. This put Step-up in a tenuous situation, since they had already moved in, their sound system was in place and the schedule of practices and dances that evening was already set. Needless to say a mad scramble happened trying to understand the situation and the stonewalling they got was frustrating. They even got the mayor involved. They were told that they would accommodate them for that day but to make sure all their belongings were vacated the next day or they were going to throw them out. No reason was given by Masonic as to why, except that they changed their mind.

So, now what? Raffaele after recovering from the shock, already has 2 studios lined up as possible replacements. This time, he won’t announce it until he has an executed lease.
He can now find humor about the incident and in his heavy Italian accent, joke:

If this was Italy, I would’ve settled in it in a different way…but I have to be a good boy in California…”

Stay tuned for announcements as to revised venue and schedules.

At the heels of Cheryl Burke Dance’s closing and …

From its ashes, a new group has cobbled together a dream of another large ballroom between 10-15K sq ft to replace CBD. Furniture and fixtures, lessons learnt and the community built from the legacy of the now defunct studio are being picked over to be reused as needed.

David Weise

The new group is a partnership between Raffaele Sabato, David Weise and Paul McNamara, 2 competition pros and a funding developer and dancer. The search is underway and may take anywhere from 6 months to even a year to complete…

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In the meantime, Raffaele is going solo financially and taking a chance so he can keep his dance family together. He will be holding the fort as Step-up Ballroom, while David and Paul expedite the final home. Partnering with him for the interim place, Brigitte Levy, CBD’s manager, the last 3 years, is joining him to provide the continuity for the crossover.

Brigitte Levy and Raffaele Sabato

I’m not in it for the money first. I take the risk to transfer the feeling of family. If you feel it, you do it.” he says.

Raffaele joined CBD 5 years ago after moving from Italy, where he owned a ballroom with his grandfather. He competed in international standard and taught Pro Am for 20 years. He witnessed the energy and passion at CBD and quickly called it home. He is on a mission to keep that flame burning and not allow it to cool while the new home is being found.


Singlemindedly preparing to keep the dance going in temporary facilities. Raffaele adroitly found a suitable temporary home, 10 minutes away at the Mountain View Masonic Hall at 890 Church St. Mountain View CA 94014. There are two dance floors available that open into each other. The large auditorium is 2,400 sf ft and the large Dining Room is 1,000 sq ft.

The facilities is available on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and every other Saturday.

Soft starting this Thursday, Oct. 8th and Sunday Oct 11th, David Weise is kicking it off with beginner and intermediate West Coast Swing and Daniel with Salsa. Door Fee for lessons and party is $10.
Rumba and Cha cha will be taught by Natalja, Arkadiy and is $20-$35. Floor space is available for privates and practice on those days from generally around 11:00A to 8:30P. The Sunday schedule is Salsa, Merengue and Bachata. See details below.

It will be a very busy month as they ramp up and hit the ground running.
Brigitte thanks everyone for all the support through the years at CBD and is hoping for the dancers continued loyalty as they endeavor to keep the community together.

Dancing is a passion not business”

says Raffaelo. These are the people that are in the Field of Dreams. The ones that say:

If you build it, they will come.”

and it shows in their product. The energy you feel is not bustle but joy. More power to him as he holds together their dream. See you there.

Author: Gina Katigbak, avid social dancer and dance maven.  Go to to find where to dance in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Dance News

When one door closes…

At the wake of Cheryl Burke Dance closing, the new Starlite Ballroom opens.              new-slider-image-01

Reenter: Michael Reeves, former owner of the old Starlite, back to rekindle and coax the old Starlite denizens IMG_0244back to the fold.

The former Starlite Dance Studio

Flashback 2001 to 2007, Michael Reeves with 2 partners owned the most beloved ballroom in the Bay Area located at 1160 North Fairoaks Ave. Sunnyvale, CA. Dancers still wax nostalgic about that place. None ever replaced it in their hearts. It was 17,000 sq ft with 3 ballrooms. 2,000 people went there weekly. The Friday and Saturday parties were 400 – 450 strong. The place itself had an ambiance that could not be rivaled by anything else that came along after. Long after it had lost its lease and was replaced by Cheryl Burke Dance, veteran dancers eyes still sparkled when they talked about it. A large part was because of how Michael ran that place. His main focus was the ambiance. He wanted the place to be welcoming, warm, friendly and feel like home. He prided himself in knowing everybody’s name and wanted it to look magical and romantic. He says

It truly was my heart.”

In 2007, urban creep gobbled it up and they had to move. For over a year they searched for a replacement and he partnered with Sherri and Cheryl Burke to rebuild and rebrand as Cheryl Burke Dance. But…CBD never captured the old spirit, there was a different style and focus of management and so he lost his heart. And…the veteran dancers felt it, never again would it capture the hearts in the numbers that Starlite used to have. CBD still was large, at 14,000 sq ft, but growing in separate phases over a couple of years and losing Michael on the 2nd year, it lost the Starlite momentum and could not maintain the same interest and consistency in the long term. But…the die-hards stayed and it was still a substantial following.

Now, Cheryl Burke Dance is closed, deciding to exit the business after they lost the lease when the development was swallowed up by another Silicon Valley office park campus, this time LinkedIn. So… the die-hard dancers now need to find a place to go.

The Owners: from top right, clockwise: Andrea Faraci, Iveta Pauryte, Cecilia Giovacchini, Daniele Gozzi

Meanwhile: Enter the new Starlite Ballroom. A group of international competition champion dancers in Latin and Ballroom decided to get into the ballroom business and hire Michael Reeves’ business consulting firm to help set it up. Daniele, Cecilia, Andrea and Iveta are also the organizers of The Diamond Classic Dance Competition in San Jose, CA, the largest and most exclusive One-day Ballroom Dance Competition in the Bay Area. They remembered the feel of the old Starlite and wanted to replicate that ambiance. Not knowing the eventual fate of CBD, they were just counting on opening an addition to the Bay Area dance scene.

The new Starlite took a while to find a home. Due to dance studios’ specific needs regarding column spacing, location convenience needs, assembly parking and zoning requirements, and the very busy permits department of Silicon Valley, it also took over a year from conception to completion. It is located in 5178 Moorpark Avenue #60 San Jose, California. It is 4, 500 sq ft and has a single floor. As luck and happenstance has it, their grand opening is the week after CBD closes. As they say, timing is everything…so now what?

While Michael Reeves continues to run his dance industry consulting business, keeping 11 of his previous clients, he is now the Starlite manager. In charge of the social scene, he aims to IMG_7127recreate the feel and community of the old Starlite while the owners focus on the competition training aspect of the business. Michael has returned after a couple of year stint in Atlanta owning 2 dance studios and the Hotlanta ballroom competition, then cuts short his 2 year planned stint in Indianapolis running 3 small to medium size studios to move back. He is excited about what comes next. He plans on completing the memorable Starlite twinkle lights within 4 weeks. He says it takes about 3 weeks to work it. He is busy setting up for the grand opening on Saturday, Oct 10th, expecting about a 100 to 150 people. Group lessons begin at 8:00P and the dance party is at 9:00P-Midnight. It will be punctuated by showcase dances of the pros and Dan Dan Tran will have DJ honors. Door fee is $10.

Already in his roster of dances on November, aside from the ballroom staple, is Miguel De Sousa for beginner and intermediate West Coast Swing on Thursdays and Pantea resuming her Sunday Salsa curriculum from CBD. In addition, the coup of the fallout, he has gotten the most sought after ballroom DJ, Dave Ingalz to agree to his Friday and Saturday dances.

When asked what if it’s not big enough, he says that the strategy is always to test first and grow with demand. He is already eyeing the school next door which he thinks is around 3,000 sq ft, and hoping to fulfill a need in the next year.

I would like to welcome back my Starlite dance family and have it all back again. It would really make me happy to see them all at the grand opening.”

Author: Gina Katigbak, avid social dancer and dance maven.  Go to to find where to dance in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Corrigendum: Second Paragraph, first sentence has omitted information and should read:

Flashback 2001 to 2007, Michael Reeves with 2 partners, Craig Lynch and founder, Joe Metz, owned the most beloved ballroom in the Bay Area located at 1160 North Fairoaks Ave. Sunnyvale, CA.  Dancers still wax nostalgic about that place. None ever replaced it in their hearts. It was 17,000 sq ft with 3 ballrooms. 2,000 people went there weekly.

Dance News

As Cheryl Burke Dance Studio closes, what’s next?

CBD end headline1

Cheryl Burke Dance Studio turns off its lights for the final time this weekend. One last party even as all the furniture and fixtures were being liquidated to go. Dumpsters were ready outside as LinkedIn starts construction of their new campus.

For 7 years, CBD located at 1400 North Shoreline Blvd. Mountain View – Building A-1 was the largest ballroom in the Peninsula at 14,000 square feet, with 3 dance floors.

Old Starlight Ballroom in Sunnyvale

It was the popular successor to the even bigger and beloved Starlight Ballroom at 17,000 sq ft. which was previously located in Sunnyvale.  It too fell under the axe of Silicon Valley’s urban sprawl. While the cost of real estate continue to rise, ancillary functions are edged out by large residential, retail and office developments. More and more lower end real estate are being converted to accommodate the mega-giants in the area.

What happens now?

There are about 300-400 avid dancers that use the facility weekly and will be displaced as Cheryl Burke chose not to rebuild elsewhere. Although there are other large ballrooms over 10,000 sq ft, in the Bay Area, the closest is Cubberly at 12,000 sq ft. However, it is a gymnasium that doubles as a dance floor on the weekends. Needless to say, as it is not built as a ballroom, it does not have a sprung floor and an adequate sound system, so many will find it a poor substitute. Other large ballrooms are in the South Bay, 15-20 miles away. Chinese Performing Arts Academy (CPAA) at 6148 Bollinger Road, San Jose, CA 95129 is 14,000 sq ft with 4 dance floors and Dance Boulevard at 1824 Hillsdale Ave, San Jose, CA 95124 is 10,000 sq ft also with 4 dance floors. New Susan’s Studio, Top Dance and Premier are all under 10,000 sq ft. The other large ballrooms are in the East Bay. Allegro is 20,000 sq ft and have 4 dance floors and Just Dance is 10,000 sq ft with 3 dance floors. They are 35-45 miles away.

What is else is out there?

The First United Methodist Church,  Fellowship Hall, 625 Hamilton Ave. Palo Alto, CA 94301; home of Friday Night Waltz is now also the home of the well-attended, now displaced, Wednesday Night Hop, as well.  There are other specialty locations such as clubs, community centers and churches that already host other periodic dances or specialty studios hosting dance specific genres. Refer to find those.

What’s new and up and coming?

IMG_7046 IMG_7033 IMG_7032

A new addition: The Starlight Ballroom, 4,500 sq ft at 5178 Moorpark Ave San Jose,  CA  95129 has its grand opening on Oct. 10th, Saturday 8PM to Midnight. Owned by ballroom pros Andrea Faraci and Iveta Pauryte-Faraci, and latin pros Daniele Gozzi and Cecillia Giovacchini, they brought back previous Starlight owner Michael Reeves to run it.

To keep the momentum and the following of CBD, a new group made up of professional ballroom dancers and instructors: David Weise and Raffaele Sabato, an12139978_10208296242309784_2907835760779959306_od Paul McNamara, funding developer are putting together the next steps. They are looking for space over the critical mass square footage of 10,000 sq ft, it seems like the magic number for the party-goers is around 15K sq ft. They want it to be between Dumbarton Bridge and 237 Highway. So far, they have raised half a million from investors and need to raise another quarter of a million through additional investors or crowdfunding. They expect to be ready with their space as early as February or as late as April. The cost of the the spaces they are looking at has been a challenge as it is in the prime Google/LinkedIn/Apple locations.

16811042_jGaGqxHEnazlL9fx2hdZaUsixubO4XgGZaHjDObXMGQ Masonic Grand BallroomIn the meantime, Raffaelle with Brigitte Levy, CBD’s manager, are joining forces to host lessons and parties 4 times a week at Mountain View. Called Step-up Ballroom, they will be at Masonic Lodge 890 Church St Mountain View, CA 94041. It begins Oct 8 & 11, this Thursday and Sunday.


It will be an interesting year to see how these things shakes out, as dancers find their next favorite place to go. So long CBD, we have many happy memories of the many hours we spent dancing there. It will be missed.

Author: Gina Katigbak, avid social dancer and dance maven.  Go to to find where to dance in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Photo Credit: Gina Katigbak, George Chen and Don An)

Dance News

Wednesday Night Hop has a new location

WNH will re-open at its new location on October 7th
GOOD NEWS! Wednesday Night Hop has found a new home for October and beyond. The First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto has gracefully accepted to open its door and dance floors to our community. For more info, see the October 7th Wednesday Night Hop Event page.

Dance News

Starlite Ballroom opening Oct 2nd

The new Starlite Ballroom is opening this weekend, Oct 2nd & 3rd with classes and a dance. DJ is our favorite Dave Ingalz.
For more info, see the calendar of their events at the Starlite Ballroom location page.

Dance News West Coast Swing

International Flashmob Choreography Instructions

Richard Kear and Gina Katigbak break down the choreography of the International Flash Mob at their Monday night West Coast Swing Class at Dance Boulevard in San Jose, CA.

Dance News

Learning to Wait: How West Coast Swing Dancing Taught Me Patience

Great blog post by Susan Rosenzweig on dancing and life
click here to read the Huffington Post article

Dance News

Musicality: You Can’t Dance to Music You Don’t Hear

Great music has lots of layers. The more you hear, the more options you have in your dancing.

Don Baarns provides lots of tips and tricks on his Music4Dancers channel

Dance News

Frequently Asked Questions about Lead and Follow

Partnering skills are vital to good ballroom dancing. Leading and following are skills that require true intelligence and cognitive abilities such as learning, pattern recognition, and non-verbal communication. Here is a collection of great articles that we are sure you will find useful.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lead and Follow