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West Chester Dance Classes

West Chester Dance Classes Start Next Week!

Next Monday May 4th is the kick-off of our West Chester Dance Classes! I have noticed that May has notoriously been the worst month of the year to run classes or events since starting Swing Kat in 2006. However due to timing constraints and the venues desire to see their Monday nights filled with something, we are starting on what is the worst month, May.  However, we have enough students to start our West Chester dance classes next Monday anyway and start we will! Here we come West Chester!

If West Chester dance classes in the vintage swing styles of dance are something you have been waiting for or if this all just sounds interesting to you.  Check out what we have to offer on our Syllabus Page.  If you like what you see come just us in class by registering HERE!  These dance classes are for adults.  Finally something fun for the kids at heart!  Yes, adult dance classes in a style of dance the is more fun than you can imagine.

Swing Kat has been offering swing dance classes in Pottstown PA since 2006.  We are recognized as the only full fledge vintage swing dance studio in the entire region.  With students and dancers spread in all directions of Pottstown many traveling an hour to get to us, last year we started opening dance studios in major areas outside of Pottstown.  Our new West Chester dance classes are just another step in that direction.  A chance for our dancers who live in the West Chester area to have the same benefits our Pottstown area dancers have.  Hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity and sign up for classes today!

Reading Swing Dance Classes

Our Reading Swing Dance Classes

We have finally found a home for our Reading swing dance classes.  After searching through over 30 places we believe we have found the best possible home for our Reading swing dance classes.  That home is the Goggle Works.  The Goggle Works is dedicated to bringing the arts back to downtown Reading.  It just so happens that our Reading swing dance classes & dance events help them accomplish that mission!  What a great fit!  The talk has been to do these lessons on Thursday evenings.  The Goggle works has been bringing the arts back to downtown Reading for about the last 10 years just as we have been bringing the arts of dance & live music back to Pottstown during the same years.  This is a match made in Heaven!  I am so glad to be working with them.

We have been seeing lots of excitement over our Reading swing dance classes!  Now our Swing Kats & to be Swing Kats from nearby Wyomissing, Shillington, Hamburg, Fleetwood and Oley will have a place near home to learn to swing dance!  I almost gave up on doing a Reading studio about a month ago.  It had just been so hard to find a place that would work for us.  Then in Pottstown I found I was going to have to extend our classes to Wednesday nights as well.  This is due to the great class turnouts we have been having at our home location.  Well, doing Wednesdays and Thursday in Pottstown along with Mondays in West Chester &  Tuesdays in Lansdale meant I had no other week nights to teach classes.  However, the Goggle Works just fell into my lap.  I just knew it was meant to be.  But I also knew I couldn’t teach it LOL!  In talking with a few of our star dancers/instructors in the past few weeks, I now believe I have someone who will work nicely for instructing our Reading swing dance classes.  I will let you know who once we have finalized the details and I am sure this individual is ready and willing.  But rest assured, Reading swing dance classes are just around the corner!

 

Dance Studio In West Chester

Our Swing Kat Dance Studio in West Chester

To our West Chester area Swing Kats, it is time to celebrate!  We now have a Swing Kat dance studio in West Chester PA!  Our dance studio in West Chester is located near the eastern edge of town in an area ballroom dance studio.  This studio is run by no other than Carlos Maldonado & Suzy Keenan.  Carlos & Suzy are no strangers to Swing Kat as back in the summer of 2008 Carlos ran ballroom dance events at the Ballroom On High in a partnership with us.  A few months later Carlos & Suzy opened Carousel Ballroom which is a dance venue and dance studio in West Chester!  It is this dance studio in West Chester that we will be joining forces with to bring vintage swing to West Chester area residences!

Carousel’s dance studio in West Chester can be found at: 319 Westtown Road, Suite P, West Chester, PA  19382.  You won’t believe the beauty of this amazing studio!  Carlos & Suzy have spared no expense in creating an atmosphere of style & luxury.  There attention to detail has made Carousel the number one ballroom dance studio in West Chester.  Adult ballroom dance classes are offered at great pricing with no pressure on students to sign big expensive contracts.  While you are waiting for our vintage swing classes to get rolling in West Chester, check out Carousel and take some great ballroom dance lessons!  Click Here!

For more on our dance studio in West Chester, Click Here!

To sign-up for vintage swing dance classes in West Chester, Click Here!

The Pottstown Swing Dance Remains

Swing Kat Remains a Pottstown Swing Dance Studio & Venue

It appears at least for now that Swing Kat Entertainment will remain a Pottstown swing dance studio & venue.  Over the past year it appeared that Swing Kat would be shutting the doors to it’s Pottstown swing dance venue and reopen in Spring City, Pa.  Then more recently it appeared as though the move would be to Collegeville, PA.  However, the more things change the more they remain the same.  Pottstown swing dance classes & dances will indeed remain in Pottstown for the time being.

Last Thursday with only a month and a half before our deadline to relocate an agreement was reached with the owner of 310 E High St for Swing Kat to remain in Pottstown.  Recognize the address?  Yes, the place we call the Ballroom On High, our long time home will remain our home for the foreseeable future.  This means that come March 31st we will not be out on the street again searching for any little hope we can find.  What I know at this point is that we will remain at our current location until at least the end of September and perhaps longer.  This is not a permanent fix but a welcomed calm in the midst of a storm.  Of course it makes me very happy to remain where this all started nearly 9 years ago.

Since we can breath a sigh of relief, I have shifted my focus (but only halfway) to securing locations for our satellite studio locations in West Chester & Reading as well as finding homes for our satellite dance events which will happen in Allentown & Lansdale.  However, half of my focus still remains on finding a once and for all answer to our need for a permanent location.  It again is my desire to make the statement “Pottstown swing dance” remain true as Pottstown has been our home.  There is more cooking than I can say right now, but I will let you know when the time is right. More to come…

Reading and West Chester Dance Studio Locations

West Chester Dance Studio

Well, the search is on for Reading PA and West Chester dance studio locations.  This Tuesday friend and dance customer Richard Thompson and I spent all day trying to find a home for Swing Kat’s West Chester dance studio satellite location.  We had fun searching, but as the day went on we found we were quickly getting no where!  Now Richard has seen first hand why finding a home for our main location in Pottstown has been such a struggle.  For our West Chester dance studio finding a location is way easier as we only need a space to hold 15 couple & we don’t need it on the weekend when prices are higher.  However as Richard can attest, it is still not easy.  However after running down 22 leads, we did come up with one place that might work.  The best part is that it could work for not just classes but also for a monthly dance as well.  Again, the key word is might.  If I have learned anything in the past 2 years, it is that you should not count your chickens until they hatch.  After a full day of working on my little project, Richard took me out to see his little project.  Check out the picture in this post.

Richard T. in front of his little Project.

Richard T. in front of his little Project.

Reading Dance Studio

So Tuesday I spent all day in West Chester.  Then came Wednesday and Reading PA.  In Reading I had a bit more luck.  The first place I went to opened it’s doors to us!  However, I have to consider the location and it’s challenges.  The first challenge is that it is in the heart of Reading PA.  Though it is in a good spot, people from outside the city (our largest supporting crowd) believes Reading to be unsafe in the evening hours.  Yes, there are areas to stay out of at night, but this is not one of them.  I have learned from living in Pottstown for so many years that the areas to avoid are the neighborhoods and the edges of housing areas.  Where people are living, dealing and stomping can be dangerous at times.  However this location is surrounded by parking garages, churches and large newly constructed commercial buildings.  Best part is that the parking garage is right next door and only costs $1 for 2 hours, WOW!  However it is important to do your homework and explore all options.  So, I spent the rest of my day in the Reading area chasing other leads.  After entering about 20 buildings, I left Reading with only one option, the first place I looked at.  However I am going to continue searching in Reading just as I am in the south for a West Chester dance studio location.

Stay posted!  These satellite studios will be up and running by late spring early summer!

Swing Kat in Collegeville

Trying To Put Swing Kat In Collegeville

It has been awhile since my last update on our moving process.  For the past month or more I have been trying to make a deal to put Swing Kat in Collegeville.  Well, technically in Trappe PA near Collegeville.  In Trappe there is a church with a decent sized hall.  They have plentiful parking and it is along the main drag.  The floor is supported by wood floor joists however it is topped with Linoleum floor tiles. (sigh…)  This is where the trouble starts.

To put Swing Kat in Collegeville or anywhere else, there are a few things on my must have list.  This list includes… sufficient parking, 200-250 person capacity, great AC, moving air, hardwood flooring, a sprung floor if possible, a stage and high ceilings.  This is a tall order!  As I have been searching I have given in on several of these items to try and make a space work for us.  However still nothing has worked and I am still searching.

The church we have been dealing with is planning on redoing their floor in the next 2 years.  But, we don’t have 2 years and they don’t have the money to do it now.  This is why we were told by them this past week that they would not be able to take us on at this time.  Though we offered to purchase hardwood for their floor the cost of removing their old flooring will be extensive due to asbestos that must be removed.  In light of this deal breaker, I have offered instead to purchase flooring to lay overtop of their floors.  This would cause us to be able to use the space without expense on their end.  At this point I am waiting to hear if putting Swing Kat in Collegeville PA will be allowable.  The answer should come next week.

For many years I have told people that I did not want to make Swing Kat a non-profit.  I know most vintage swing dance groups like Swing Kat are non-profit, but I always believed that if dancers cared enough about having a place to swing dance in the Pottstown area that Swing Kat would make it.  I didn’t want to accept moneys from outside organizations in order to keep my hobby business going.  It just never felt right to me.  I just believed that the dancers would support our dancse and would support financially if needed. However what I have found in 8 1/2 years of running Swing Kat is that though our dancers support us, we still can’t get beyond state regulations concerning buildings that will be used for Assembly.  Now we have been stopped time and time again due to these regulations.  So though we have been successful, we will never be a success just holding dance events.  For this reason I have been reconsidering my stance on non-profit status.  Also, for this reason Swing Kat is now more of a dance studio than a dance venue.   Dance studios have the money to purchase permanent homes and don’t need expensive places that hold 250 people.  I believe at this point the dance venue I always wanted will only succeed as a non-profit or if someone with deep pockets hands us a building.  To this point Swing Kat has only existed due to the fact I didn’t need much to survive.  Before starting Swing Kat is was very smart with my money and invested in real estate.  Owning a triplex that I lived in gave me the financial flexibility to start Swing Kat and sustain it for many years.  Without this setup Swing Kat would have ended years ago.  However 2 years ago now I saw that Swing Kat had reach the “glass ceiling” at the Ballroom On High.  I saw that things would not get any better if we continued to rent at our current location.  This spurred me on into the madness that these past 2 years have been.

Will it be Swing Kat in Collegeville?  Only time will tell.  Stay tuned…

Pottstown Dance Studio Re-location Ends Badly

Pottstown Dance Studio Will Have No Permanent Home

After nearly two years of searching & thousands of dollars spent, Pottstown dance studio & dance venue Swing Kat Entertainment will have no permanent home.  Our bid to relocate to Spring City PA ended Tuesday night after learning that state & borough codes would require us to erect a 240ft long by 4ft high retaining wall.  In addition walking over the property a few weeks ago we discovered an under ground oil tank which is not in use.  A few days ago we learned that removing this oil tank would be required prior to the bank giving us  a loan.  Also that no bank will give you a loan on a commercial building unless the state is satisfied with the extraction of such a tank.  Lastly the cost of such an extraction would cost between roughly $12K & $58K.  This high cost is due to the state EPAs regulations concerning removal of oil tanks on commercial properties.  $7-8K would first be spent to have a phase 1 survey conducted before extraction begins.  The reason for such a high cost is that the red tape is extensive.  From there extraction can begin but if the state is still not satisfied a phase 2 survey may be required at another $7-8K.

The moving of our Pottstown dance studio started in April 2013.  Our goal was to keep Swing Kat in Pottstown.  We started our Plan A approach by trying to get lower rent from our landlord who was over charging us for the space (second highest rate in Pottstown though we were on the 2nd floor).  When that didn’t work we tried our Plan A Part 2 idea which was to get him to sell us the building.  However his view of the building’s value did not match reality as he wanted $450K, about double the properties value if in move in ready condition (which it was not).  So by the end of June 2013 we started looking over hundreds of commercial buildings for sale, Plan B.  After endless hours searching only 6 looked promising.  Five were in town and close by our Pottstown dance studio home.   One was in Spring City but it was under contract to be sold.  After walking through the 5 in Pottstown it became clear that only 1 would work for us.  So, you may remember the drawings and information we put out on the building last summer.  If not, perhaps you remember how we raised nearly $65K in pledges to purchase that building.  We were on our way!  Then we found out days before signing the agreement on the building that we would be required by the state to put in a $100K sprinkler system.  Needless to say lots of time and money was lost in the 3 months we pursued that building.  I was heart broken and had few options at that point.  However we had a Plan C.  That plan was to rent a place to run our classes and events as well as to ask a  Pottstown dance studio doing children’s dance lessons to join us.  This was a great plan!  However, our business model calls for Assembly Use or a place where people are allowed to gather.  Very few commercial properties have this zoning like the first building we tried to buy which is why they wanted the sprinkler system in the zoning change over.  We ended up running into the same problems of sprinklers, bathroom sizes, handicap baths & access because when you change zoning (even when renting) you are required to comply with codes that no small time business man making under $30K  a year can come close to complying with.  So, luckily we had a Plan D to join a Pottstown dance studio for children helping them with their rent while getting lower rent for ourselves.  So we found a studio in Stowe that seemed very happy to take us on.  However after signing the contract in September 2013, they broke it twice in only 6 days!  I gave the owner the benefit of the doubt and  believing she just must not have understood and I graciously let her out of the contract.  After 3 more weeks, We signed a second contract which wasn’t as good for us but would give us a place to move on January 1st when our contract would end at our Pottstown dance studio.  The owner agreed to let us start construction & start moving things in around mid-November.  Though we had emails proving the owner’s agreement to these terms, we didn’t feel a need to put these stipulations in the contract and for that we paid dearly.  They fought us coming in and said that they didn’t see why they should have to let us come in to do the work before Christmas.  I’ve got a good reason, cause they said they would.  Does anyone believe in honor anymore?  Long story short, after paying lawyers, signing amendments to our 2nd contract and them breaking 2 more points on the amended contract we were finally free from the madness they caused us with only 2 weeks to spare before the new year and our move out of our old Pottstown dance studio.  Two weeks is not a lot of time to find a new home for a business, but luckily we had a Plan E back when we started this process & solid business connections with people who’s trust we had gained over the years due to our good reputation.  So with 2 weeks to spare we tried to move all of our dance events & lessons.  However  we could only find a home for 2/3 of our programming.  This along with the fact that Plan E involved renting spaces by the night caused us to only make $6K in the first 6 months of this year.  Just 2 months into the new year, one of the 3 places we were now operating out of, the Sunnybrook Ballroom let us know that the deal wasn’t working out for them.  Our contract gave me 180 days to vacate and they honored the contract.  So, in February of this year I started back at Plan B and found that the Spring City building had not sold!  I was excited and moved on it immediately!  Well, you know how this ended.  After 9-10 months, thousands of dollars, countless meeting and an education in endless state and local laws that no one should ever have to learn it all ended Tuesday.

State laws have stopped us twice in this very long and expensive process which has nearly put us out of business.  The uncertainty of this long process has cost us our Salsa partner (a huge loss), our 1st Friday Dance Mix, one of our Ballroom partners and countless customers.  State regulations in the name of the environment, under the name of compassion and especially in the name of safety are killing small businesses like Swing Kat every day.  The power that is being wielded in the name of the environment, access for the disabled and safety is killing the American dream.  The dream that someone who has nothing and who has come from nothing like myself will ever have a shot at being something more than a pawn in a game of chess.  Why is this happening you ask?  It is because people are afraid of being sued.  States and Boroughs adopt laws that leave buildings like the one I was looking at vacant and worthless so that they won’t be sued.  May times old properties cannot comply with codes for new construction due to space & layout constraints.  No one with money will touch these buildings and you have seen what happens to a guy who will.  What about the current owners of the building?  They have been trying to sell this building for 2 years.  The first guy who wanted it could not buy it due to state laws and now neither could I.  The owners are now being forced to auction off a building that would be worth $200K without these regulations for pennies on the dollar.  Oh yes, and the owners are a non-profit club that had been supporting a young handicap man until they were no longer able to due to the state’s inconsiderate law making.  The fact is that these old buildings can’t comply with the International Building Code which Pennsylvania has adopted.  Thus this historic building built in 1852 with beautiful tin ceilings will likely be knocked down once sold at auction.  Don’t get me wrong I am for the environment, but I fail to see how $7-$16K worth of paperwork helps.  Don’t get me wrong I desire access for people with disabilities, but requiring a handicap ramp & bath on the 1st floor of this building does not give them access to the 2nd & 3rd floors where we are DANCING.  At the point we start to actually use the 1st floor space in the building (in 4 years from now when the EPA lifts it’s band on EDU’s in Spring City) then make us put in the ramp & bath as getting to the first floor would then actually be helpful.  Don’t get me wrong, I am for safety, but requiring a 240ft retaining wall so someone’s car door doesn’t swing into the car next to it accidently, or a 14ft wide one way drive when cars are 6ft wide, or a 24ft wide two way drive, or a sprinkler system in a building that has more than sufficient exits, or being told to tear out a beautiful historic staircase because current codes don’t allow people walk on winding staircase at their own risk anymore.  Apparently people can no longer navigate them.  Have we gone mad?

At this point the Swing Kat that has been will be getting a serious face lift as we enter into Plan F.  Yes, there was a Plan F.  I started on Plan F in the beginning of this year as I didn’t trust things would just work out anymore.  Plan F was to cut back on the number of dances we run in our Pottstown dance studio area & start becoming more of a regional dance studio.  We are now teaching in Pottstown, Allentown and Lansdale.  The shame is that what we have built in the past 8 years is now mostly loss.  In the past year I have practically been starting a new business under the same name.  I keep thinking how great it would be to have some HGTV show come and rescue us by fixing up the building and handing us the keys.  Or some person with more money than they knew what to do with would come buy, fix and hand it over for the good of all.

All I ever wanted was a place where I and others could dance near home.  Now due to all the debt I am in and all the time I have invested, I have no choice but to make the new Swing Kat work or I will lose the past 8 years of my life.  I would like to say thanks to the great state of Pennsylvania who’s codes took a building worth $200K, made it worth nothing, let me spend $10k and then told me I’d have to spend $200K more if I wanted their blessing to use it.  There has got to be a better way.

UPDATE:  12/12/2014  This just in, the dance studio in Stowe that kept dishonoring their agreements with us closed. This info was just given to me by one of our dancers. I just tried the studio website & it is TRUE! The owner broke contract with us 4 times, broke 2 verbal agreements and then sued us, took us to court, lied under oath and even falsified 2 documents.  In the 6 months that followed we made only $6K due to the damage this one person caused.  Her case was thrown out, but so was our counter suit.  The judge told me we lost our count suit because I still had the key to her place.  I was holding the key so that should would give me back my $2,500. deposit.  I never got it back…  This is one person I am glad is out of business so that she can’t do this to another small business owner! She put me through H….! Thank God her dishonest dealings are over.

The Perfect Gift

Dance, Quite Possibly the Perfect Gift

Everyone tries to find that special someone the perfect gift each holiday season.  Though I don’t know that any one gift can be totally perfect, I do know that there is one gift that could possibly be the perfect gift.  That gift is the gift of dance.

From the time we are born something within us just wants to move when we hear music.  Unfortunately social & peer pressure keep many of us from expressing this very natural urge.  Dance lessons help us overcome the pressures that keep us from wearing our emotions on our sleeves.  Next, dancing is something that brings lots of joy into peoples lives.  Giving the perfect gift of dance will make your loved one happier.  Then there is the fact that studies are now proving dance to be the number one thing for your overall health; mental, social & physical all wrapped into one beautiful package of happiness, laughter and full self expression.  Best yet when the gift of dance you have given has reached it’s end, there is nothing left to collect dust on the shelf, or to trip over in the hall, your loved one has not gained 5 lbs nor have they been on a vacation that has ended with nothing but memories.  Instead your loved one has maybe lost 5 lbs, found a new and health hobby, has fond memories, has maybe broken down the wall of self insecurity and has taken with them a skill that they can use over and over again.  All of this at a price you can afford!

Is the gift of the dance the perfect gift?  I can’t say, but I know it beats the alternatives by a long shot!  Sign up for dance lessons today!  Click Here or check out our partners and sign up for Ballroom Dance Lessons.

Swing Kat In Spring City PA

Swing Kat In Spring City PA

It has been a long time since my last post on our moving process.  However what you need to know is that it may now just be a matter of time before you find Swing Kat in Spring City PA!  I have been quiet on this subject for awhile as things have been moving so slowly that there has been nothing much to say.  Also, it looked so bad for so long I didn’t want to put out a post saying we were not going to be able to find a new home.  However, it got so bad at one point that I did announce at our 8th Anniversary we would not be able to buy the building at 123 Hall St in Spring City.  But that was a few months ago.  Now for the past 3 weeks we have been riding a wave of good news that just might put Swing Kat in Spring City PA after all!

If you read some of my older posts on our moving process, you might have found a list of hurdles we needed to overcome in order to relocate Swing Kat to Mechanics Hall.  Well, around 3 weeks ago that list lost it’s biggest hurdle.  As it stands now, Swing Kat Entertainment has the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s full blessing to proceed forward on the issue of EDUs concerning Spring City’s outdated sewer system.  The fact that our usage will not at all be what the DEP would expect from a building this size has made the difference and gotten us over this hurdle.  The DEP’s concern was that we would use over 800 gallons of water in a given day.  First off our average usage will be around 285 gallons a day if we double our current usage at the new location.  The only night we would even get close to 800 gallons by their calculations is on our live band nights.  According to their calculations, we would go over 800 and up to 1000 gallons on that night.  Now you and I both know that wouldn’t happen, but we have to go by their calculations.  So, they have restricted our turnouts to 159 persons on any given day.  Getting average turnouts this fall of 200 persons or more this may seem like a problem.  However, it won’t be as we can use other facilities on nights we believe our numbers will be greater than 159.

The main point here is that only a few hurdles remain for seeing Swing Kat in Spring City PA.  The biggest one at this point is the variance hearing for our proposed parking lot.  We will need to seek relief at the variance hearing on many little issues concerning our parking lot.  The most major of which is the fact that we will not be able to create enough parking spots in our lot for the square footage of the building.  Others include driveways not being of sufficient width, requirement of paving which we can’t afford and needing tighter parking spots.  However anyone who tries to buy Mechanics Hall will face these same issues.  Thus, the hearing board has got to give somebody relief on these issues or the owners will never sell this building.  The other hurdle at this time is a requirement for full blown land development plans.  This is a very costly issue at $30-40K just to get permission to proceed.  Requirement of full blown land development plans would end our pursuit of Mechanics Hall.  However, we have a really good chance of not being required to go all the way with land development.  Requirement of partial land development would drop that bill to $7-10K.  This decision will be up to the Spring City borough council.  Council members have had some face time will me at borough meetings and have expressed a desire to see Swing Kat in Spring City PA.  That should help us make our dream of having a permanent home in Spring City a reality!

Swing Kat – Static Stickers Are Here!

Swing Kat Static StickersStatic Window Sticker

Hey everyone!  Swing Kat car window static stickers are finally here!  Show your support of Swing Kat and help us spread the word about the joy of swing dancing.  Get your static sticker at our next dance event for only $5.  These very stylish and well designed stickers will be available at all of our swing dance events as long as supplies last.  So don’t delay!

How to apply static window stickers

You may need to know how to apply static window stickers.   So here are some helpful hints.

1. First off if the sticker is square, but the image is not (as is the case for our stickers) take a razor blade and cut off the access material about an eighth of an inch around image.  This step is not necessary however it does make for a nicer look.

2. Now clean the window glass on the inside of the window.

3. Most importantly! Before you put your sticker on the INSIDE of your car window, spray the area with water.  Wetting the area and then applying the sticker will allow you to push out all of the air bubbles and adjust the position of the sticker.  ***Note: the picture above shows the logo done using this method while the lower website address was placed on the dry window.

4. Next, take the sticker and peal it off the paper and flip it over back onto the paper.  The paper will help you place the sticker on the window more accurately.

5.  Adjust and push out the air bubbles.

*Note: Static stickers can be removed even years after application with no mess or damage to your window!

Now enjoy your way cool static sticker and spread your love for dancing!

Swing Kat Entertainment © 2018

Main Location: Ballroom On High 310 East High St Pottstown PA 19464, 610.348.6727