PICTURED: Students participate in a summer dance party at House of Dance in Ventura. Photo courtesy of Patricia Monico
by Alicia Doyle
Since opening in 2002, the House of Dance in Ventura has been like a second home to students of all ages who frequent the studio for classes and a sense of camaraderie. Serving children as young as age 7 to older adults in their 80s, the studio has also hosted numerous events, including dance parties, father-daughter dances, birthday parties, bridal and baby showers and weddings.
“My landlord is always saying that I’m the hidden gem,” said owner Patricia Monico, of Ventura.
But since the coronavirus hit, forcing many businesses to shut their doors to protect the safety of the community, Monico is concerned about the future of House of Dance and is especially worried about her older students who must remain socially isolated until the crisis is over.
“I’ve got several students in their 80s and many of them dance three or four times a week — that’s what keeps them going,” she said. “This is their physical and mental outlet. It’s not just a physical thing for a lot of people, especially the older people who live alone; this is their outlet for social activities.”
She noted that she has received several depressing emails from her students since the virus hit Ventura County.
“I sent another email out yesterday just touching base with everyone,” Monico said. “I’m letting them know I’m still trying to get this place up and running.”
Meanwhile, a Go Fund Me campaign is underway to generate money that will support her dance instructors that have been unable to work during the quarantine. As of April 13, $4,585 had been raised toward a $6,000 goal. To make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/f/support-local-wcs-instructors-during-quarantine.
“This will help our instructors out of work, and some of it will go to the rent, because if I don’t have a building, I don’t have any place for them to go,” Monico said. “I’m also running a special on my website; hopefully people will pay for their classes that are coming up, hopefully soon.”
Monico, who began her dance life in 1977, competed in ballroom through 1997. She has won numerous awards over the years, including first place at the Western Regional Challenge Cup in cha cha, rumba, tango, mambo, salsa and swing. She has also danced in two 24-hour dance-a-thons to raise money for AIDS, and danced on Holland America and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. Additionally, House of Dance has reaped several honors, including being named the Best Dance Studio in the Ventura County Reporter in 2005, 2009 and 2015. Monico herself was named the Best Dance Instructor in the Ventura County Reporter in 2017.
Dance classes offered at her studio include salsa, cha cha, East and West Coast swing, waltz, foxtrot, tango, Argentine tango, rumba, samba, nightclub two-step, the hustle and country two-step.
If the quarantine is imposed for two or three more months, however, “I don’t know if I can ever catch up,” said Monico.
Some people have suggested she take out a loan to help make ends meet.
“You still have to pay that back – it’s not free money,” Monico said. “If I can’t pay my rent in three months, I can’t pay off a loan in three months. I worry about how long this is going to set us back. This affects everyone who walks in my doors; it’s not just me — it’s everybody.”
As far as the future is concerned, she is trying to remain optimistic.
“I am thinking positive — if I don’t, I might as well just totally walk away,” she said. “But I can’t do that. This is my passion. This is something I feel is important to the community, my students, and people who walk in the door.”
House of Dance, 3007 Bunsen Ave., Ventura. For more information, visit www.pmhouseofdance.com or call 805-650-2719.