Save the last dance

Cheryl Burke Dance Studio closing at the end of the month

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, who was raised in Atherton, 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.

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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