Dance studio

Community mourns as COVID restrictions put dance studio under

D2 held out for nearly two years, but just couldn’t resist the province’s latest shutdown order

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The hundreds of comments on Facebook speak volumes: Vancouver’s dance community mourns the loss of a beloved dance studio that has been at the heart of the west coast’s vibrant social dance scene for nearly a decade. .

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Jennifer and Stephen Dancey have announced that after weathering 19 months of restrictions and closures, they can no longer keep the doors open at D2 Dance Studio in Mount Pleasant.

The studio was home to some of the city’s most popular teachers, offering salsa, bachata and kizomba lessons and hosting dance events, often bringing in international performers. But the recurring restrictions and ban on couples dancing events were ultimately insurmountable.

“So many people have told me that this is a safe and inclusive space for dancers of all kinds – a place where friendships are made, where people meet and fall in love, where lasting bonds are formed. trained,” Jennifer Dancey said.

“When you run a business like this, you try to stay in business to help people in the community, to provide an outlet and a place to connect, to keep people sane during the pandemic with all the isolation,” Dancey said.

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It was never just about the business – until it was.

“We’ve been on life support with rent subsidies, loans, and various financial aids for almost two years,” Dancey said.

Vaccinations were supposed to be a turning point. Then came Omicron and another series of closures, announced in December.

“Gyms and dance studios have been unfairly targeted,” Dancey said.

Jennifer and Stephen Dancey pack up their shuttered D2 studio, forced to close permanently due to COVID-19 in Vancouver, British Columbia, January 16, 2022.
Jennifer and Stephen Dancey pack up their shuttered D2 studio, forced to close permanently due to COVID-19 in Vancouver, British Columbia, January 16, 2022. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /PNG

Although fitness and dance studios were ordered to close under a public health order issued on December 22, bars, restaurants, concerts, theaters and sporting events were allowed to remain open at reduced capacity .

“There has never been adequate data or an explanation to show that dance or gym activities are more dangerous,” Dancey said. “We followed the rules all the way.”

This included posting COVID-19 plans, additional cleaning, improved ventilation, and checking vaccination cards at the door. But Dancey said messages from public health authorities, even without supporting data, have planted unnecessary fear in the minds of the public.

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“Our dance community has been treated like it’s a dangerous community.” says Dancey. “With Omicron, you can’t say it’s more dangerous than any other place people go.”

After this latest round of closures, Dancey said, “The odds seemed insurmountable.”

The couple, who met and fell in love in a dance class in 2003, quit their day jobs in 2006 to start producing dance events, and eventually opened their own studio, say they will continue under a new name, Dancing events .

Planning is still in its early stages, but Dancey says they want to produce more independent social events, where allowed.

“We want to continue to connect people and build community.”

Dancey said they were lucky, with a supportive landlord who took part in the rent subsidy program and “tried hard to help us,” but in the end, it didn’t. was not enough. There remains the weighty question of which COVID relief loans will need to be repaid. As with other small businesses, these invoices will fall due in 2023 whether or not the business survived.

“We have to keep working,” Dancey said.

What keeps her going is the outpouring of love and support from the community.

“One person posted on Facebook ‘Jennifer is the mother of all Vancouver dancers,'” Dancey said. “A mother does not abandon her children.

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