Our Very Own Dance Studio

The story of why and how.

by Frank Valenta

We are Frank and Carol Valenta, Round Dance leaders originally from Long Island NY who recently moved to Fletcher, North Carolina. Fletcher is located in the mountains of western NC between Asheville and Hendersonville. I have been cueing, and along with Carol, teaching Round Dancing since 1986. We teach all levels, beginners through Phase VI.

Upon taking early retirement, after 36 years from my full time position in the field of structural engineering in NY and our time now permitting, we wanted to establish our dance instruction program on a nearly full time basis and had grand ideas to open a "commercial dance studio". However, after reality set in, we realized that we could not support the kind of establishment we wanted with Round Dancing being the primary function. However, we did not want to go back to relying on rental of halls that lacked the convenience and qualities we desired in a dance facility. Since we were planning to relocate anyway and build a new home, we decided that our only option was to build an "in home" dance studio where we could "do our own thing". Our criteria; We needed a space large enough to host weekly clubs, classes, workshops and private lessons. The space had to be able to dance 15-20 couples at the Phase II to IV levels and 10 to 15 couples at the Phase V and VI levels. This meant something around 1500 square feet. We would still plan to rent larger halls for special dances when necessary.

Before retiring, I spent the better part the year, designing our new home to insure we gained the greatest amount of space possible that we could afford. After some effort we finally contracted to have a fairly simple 1900 square foot three bedroom house built on property we had purchased in NC. The house has an attached garage, a large unfinished attic and the foundation is set into a gentle hillside allowing the basement to open onto a ground level parking area at one end. Construction started in early September of 1998 and we moved in just five months later. To save dollars I opted to do all of the 900 SF of ceramic tile installation upstairs and most the finish construction in the studio myself.

To eliminate columns in the basement, the house was supported by three large steel beams, which spanned between the front to back walls of the foundation. The hardwood dance floor area dimensions are 28' by 54'. A separate 6' by 12 by 10" high carpeted stage area is located off of the main dance area. Other amenities include: A set of quality speakers permanently hung on the walls at each end of the room; A wall mounted shelf with power plugs and exposed speaker wire for hook-up of tape recorders; A separate refreshment area with an under counter refrigerator and cabinet; A 2' by 2' acoustic suspended ceiling with dimmer controlled recessed lighting, and; Walls that are finished in a decorative paint scheme for effect.

For the interested, a few more details. The floor, a true floating floor, was the major undertaking, and it needed to be done right the first time. I did a lot of research and finally developed the following plan. I constructed the floor by first placing a 6 mil plastic vapor barrier over the concrete floor. I covered this with two layers of 30 LB. builders felt to add the resilient feel. A sub-floor was then constructed consisting of two layers of one-half inch exterior grade plywood, fastened together with adhesive and staples. Over the sub-floor another layer of felt was placed to prevent "creaking". Finally, 2 " wide Number 2 Common Red Oak hardwood flooring was laid using a power nailer and 1 " long power nails to keep them from tearing through the vapor barrier. Sanding and finishing, using a three coat "Dura-Seal System", was completed by professionals to insure a quality finish.

The overall cost to finish the studio, not including my labor, was in the range of $8 to $9 per square foot. This was mostly for materials with the floor and ceiling being the major component costs. However, the result, a magnificent area to dance and teach in, was worth it.

As part of the construction of our new home we had to build a small private road to access our property and the adjoining two lots. The 520' long road runs along side of a small creek that winds its way below the three properties. Putting 2 and 2 together, we named the road Dancing Creek Lane and the studio name is DC (Dancing Creek) Studio. We are conveniently located off I-26 Exit 13. Our mailing address is: PO Box 1076, Fletcher, NC 28732. For information and driving directions we can be reached by phone at (828) 654-9708, by Fax at (828) 654-8445 and by e-mail at valentafe@earthlink.net. Visitors are always welcome.

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