Couples find success with Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery in Eaton. 

By Jennifer Patterson Lorenzetti

Ask people about Dayton’s claims to fame and you will hear many responses, ranging from the historic—like the Wright Brothers and NCR—to modern attractions like the Dayton Dragons and the Schuster Center. However, not everyone knows about the area’s vibrant ballroom dance community, with several area studios and dance clubs ensuring that there are places to take a spin around the hardwood floor any day or night of the week.

One of these studios is the Dayton Dance Centre, owned by Centerville native Sara Andrews. In 2017 the studio moved into a historic ballroom in downtown Miamisburg, built in 1875. The process of returning the ballroom to its former glory, however, was hardly a romantic one.

The original ballroom was constructed on the third floor of the building on Central Avenue because of religious objections to dancing. “They were hiding the dance floors,” Andrews says. After going through various uses, including performance and meeting space, the ballroom was abandoned two or three decades ago, where it remained unused until Andrews stumbled upon it.

“I found the space by accident,” she says, noting that she was thinking of relocating her studio and was told about the “beautiful ballroom” that was available. “I called (the owner) and went to see the ‘beautiful’ ballroom. I have one pair of shoes that are fairly expensive and I was wearing them the first time I went to see (it). The owner warned me that it looked like the Titanic after it sank. He was right, except that it was full of pigeons, dead pigeons and pigeon droppings.”

With no windows, electricity or plumbing, and a 10-foot-by-15-foot hole in the ceiling letting in water, there was a lot of work to be done. Deliveries came via hydraulic lift through the 8-foot tall windows, and Andrews herself spent days on a scaffolding painting the 20 foot-high ceiling and installing the majestic chandelier.

And, when decades of grime and pigeon residue were removed, a beautiful 40-foot-by-60-foot, two-toned patterned dance floor emerged, which needed only a little repair to make it dance-ready.
The final results are worth it. Today, the studio is home to a dozen teachers and some 100 students taking classes in ballroom dance, Argentine tango, salsa and bachata, silks, belly dancing, and more. Wedding couples come to perfect their dance for their special day, training alongside couples who will showcase their skills in regional and national competitions. Additionally, regular social dances and parties with live music performed on the full stage give everyone a chance to practice and have fun.

The studio has not stopped growing—it’s currently in the process of adding space for small group classes and a store that will carry everything from dancewear, costumes and shoes, to ice skating equipment. Best of all, anyone who climbs the 40 steps to the third floor of this historic building will be able to see dancers of all ages and abilities twirling across the hardwood floor, just as they did nearly a century and a half ago.