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Save the last dance

Cheryl Burke Dance Studio closing

Later this month, a close-knit group will bid farewell to their "home away from home." The Cheryl Burke Dance Studio in Mountain View, one of the largest ballroom-dancing venues in the Bay Area, will shut its doors permanently at the end of September.

The closure is sparking an exodus of dancers and instructors in search of a new home.

The Cheryl Burke studio has provided a haven for dance-lovers at its somewhat hidden location, tucked in the back of an industrial lot off Shoreline Boulevard. Mountain View resident Steve Clamage said he has been coming to the studio for years. Taking a break from his two-step lesson on Friday, he gushed about what the studio has meant for him.

"It's a wonderful social activity, and there's no other place like this." he said. "I sure hope something else like this opens up."

The Mountain View dance studio is closing because its landlord, LinkedIn, has plans to redevelop the property. The professional networking company earlier this year announced plans to patch together several adjacent properties for a new 10-building campus. Other nearby tenants, including Laser Quest and Togo's Sandwiches, will also be moving in the coming months.

Studio owner Cheryl Burke gained renown in the professional dancing circuit after twice winning Dancing with the Stars," the reality TV series that pairs celebrities with professional dancers. She's become one of the show's central professional performers and has appeared in 18 seasons of the show.

Since she's still a regular on the show, Burke decided to partner with her mother, Atherton resident Sherri Burke, to create her own dance studio. It was an obvious step, her mother explained. As Cheryl's profile continued to grow, more people were asking about getting private lessons.

"But there was no way she could do it on her own," Sherri Burke said. "She asked me to help her open the studio and develop it into a franchise."

Burke and her mother retained control as they experimented with different studios. A studio in San Francisco had to close down due to parking and crime problems. A smaller Orange County venue located in an upscale shopping center made a go of it for three years before closing in 2013.

The 14,000-square-foot studio in Mountain View opened in 2009 and became the flagship and most successful of Burke's studios. The venue attracted a loyal circle of dance aficionados, both professionals and amateurs. Burke's mother credited the tech-hub location for drawing a regular group of engineers and programmers looking for a social and physical activity.

"They take off their shoes after a long day and use this as their way to unwind as they wait for traffic to die down," Sherri Burke said. "When they start dancing, all their shyness goes out the window."

The studio has offered lessons in all kinds of ballroom dancing, including tango, waltz, salsa and foxtrot. Thursday through Sunday the studio holds social dance parties, which often included many regulars.

"It's sad for a lot of people, many have been coming up to me to talk about all the fun they've had over the years," Sherri Burke said. "For many people this was like their second home."

The dance studio is holding some events to say goodbye. A farewell dance party that will include an appearance by Cheryl Burke is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12. A final dance showcase is planned for Sept. 27. All other classes and events will continue through the end of the month. Those interested can go to for a schedule of classes and special events.

Many of the professionals are already making contingency plans for what to do after the closure. Daniele Gozzi, a dance instructor at Cheryl Burke, said he hopes to draw many of the regulars to a new studio he is opening in San Jose. His new venue, Starlight Dance Studio, will employ many of the dance instructors from Cheryl Burke, he said.

"They're all excited to have a new place to dance," he said.

He said that Starlight Dance Studio will open in early October at 5178 Moorpark Ave. in San Jose.

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6 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 9, 2015 at 5:32 pm

This is sad for the dance studio. It is also devastating that Laser Quest is moving - to San Jose. This means that we are losing another youth activity in our area. It is a shame that the reporter didn't make the same phone call that I made to find out where Laser Quest would be moving.

LinkedIn, Google, Apple and Facebook are providing wonderful facilities for their employees. Those that don't have access to them are losing out in more ways than high salaries and other benefits. R & R facilities for those who don't work in these high tech companies are becoming fewer and harder to find.

In the discussion about student stress and mental health, not to mention the S word, we must also discuss the ability of our youth to have fun outside the challenging world of school, sports and performing arts. We lost the bowling alley. Now we are losing Laser Quest. Where are our kids going to play and have fun?

1 person likes this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2015 at 5:43 pm

When you spoke with laser quest, did you ask if they wanted to stay in the area? Maybe they wanted to move to San Jose for various regions ( more potential customers???)
I know in Palo Alto owners of businesses can not do what they want (I.e. Palo Alto bowl, Buena vista etc). They have to get an okay from the public before that are allowed to close, sell or move!!!
Talk about a city with a sense of entitlement

2 people like this
Posted by Patrick Swayze
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2015 at 6:18 pm

Kids should learn basic ballroom dance in school. It will prove far more useful in life than most sports. Is any school board member reading this? Don't just keep doing the same things in schools and expect a better result.

4 people like this
Posted by LQfan
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 10, 2015 at 7:36 am

Agenda - I spoke with Laser Quest and the only reason they are moving is because their building is being taken over. They said they had a hard time finding space that is big enough to set up their big game room plus all the party rooms they provide for groups to have cake and pizza time.

Paly parent - I share your concerns for the kids and teens in this whole area. We also lost the mini golf, bumperboats and go- art park off of 101 and another bowling alley in Redwood City.

1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 10, 2015 at 8:02 am


I have no idea what your agenda is. I will tell you that mine is the welfare of our kids.

I'm not sure what your youth was like, but mine included lots of time spent with friends doing all sorts of fun activities. The point some of us are trying to make is that at the heart of what it is to be a teenager shouldn't be school or the push to get into college. The heart of being a teenager must include making wonderful memories with friends of happy times spent hanging out.

Without places to do this, we are hampering their experiences. Kids don't want to spend all their hangout time at their own home or their friends' homes. They don't want to be treated like little kids, they want some independence. They need to be able to have real communication with friends, not virtual. We owe it to our kids to make their teen years as fun as ours were.

If we take away all the fun places, where will they go? Will there be more teens hanging out in the dark in parks? Will they end up getting in with the wrong crowd because they spend time hanging out in the wrong places?

[Portion removed.] As parents, what can be done about finding some "non competitive" entertainment for our kids that doesn't involve a screen?

2 people like this
Posted by six of one
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2015 at 8:30 am

Paly parent--it is too bad that you do not suggest any solutions for the problems you claim exist.
Should the city take over and run these businesses? Have you considered trying to help find a local location for LQ, bowling alleys, go kart places etc?
We are talking about privately owned businesses. Regardless of how we feel, the owners still have the right to do with their property as they desire (within the legal limits).
Also I noticed that all the activities that you talk about involve spending plenty of money--laser quest, bowling, go karts etc. are not cheap. What about children from families that are not as well off as you are (since spending plenty of money on these activities is not a problem for you).
Plus there are plenty of activities available--look at the area we live in--there are plenty of open space for hiking and camping, playing fields for soccer, basketball, baseball etc. There are swimming pools. There is a skate park in Palo Alto as well. Seems to me that there are plenty of activities available for teenagers that do not involve just going over to one anothers houses.
Do you actually have any evidence that teenagers are hanging out in parks in the dark or in "wrong places"? Also, not familiar with any places in Palo Alto that would be considered "wrong places"!!!
Anyway, LQ is moving. if it is that important, load up the van and take th ekids to San Jose when they re-open.

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