When the Deal Just Can’t Go Down

One year ago we had no idea what was ahead. Call it Post Traumatic Covid Disorder but over the past month, thoughts of March 2020 both vividly immediate and dreamily distant have taken up an inordinate amount of my brain space. Who among us has not recalled the one-year anniversary of the last time we did this or that, or went here or there, or spent time with these friends or those relatives? The fact is, “Before Covid” is a haunting thing. 

Everyone sacrificed something. Someone. A dream. A plan. And while the miracle of the Covid vaccines is a glorious light at the end of the quarantine tunnel, for some people, black terror is only intensifying. 

My friend Andy Slimak and I illustrate the point. I just received my second vaccine, which means that in two weeks I will be able to widen the lens of social possibilities. In contrast, for Andy, who realized his dream of being a small business owner not long before the pandemic hit, the nightmare continues.

As for me, I just can’t sit by and do nothing. And, in a move that’s rather out of character for me, I’m going to ask all of you to help, too.  

I think the world of this young man. You may remember Andy as the real-life hero who made one of my life-long dreams come true by teaching me (ME!) how to dance. You might say that I was a wooden-limbed Pinocchia and Andy the talented Geppetto who brought my ballroom legs to life. 

I love dancing so much, my hope was to continue working with Andy even though I moved a couple hundred miles away. Covid made that impossible until, ironically, now. I say ironically because exactly when vaccinated dancers will be able to retake the dance floor, an unanticipated twist is threatening to smash Andy’s dream to smithereens. 

The landlord and owner of the building has announced that a renewal of the lease is off the table and demands that either Andy and Liz buy the building or get out. To be fair, the owner of the building may also have been adversely affected by Covid-19, which is another indication of the layers and layers of suffering the pandemic caused throughout the business sector. However, after having nursed the business through the worst of times only to have this unanticipated new demand jeopardize ten years of hard work—to have ten years go up in smoke just like that, quick as a finger-snap—ten years of building a business one client, one lesson, one Showcase at a time in a place you’ve poured everything into—only to have it be vaporized? That’s beyond brutal. 

Perhaps Andy and Liz will be able to talk sense into the landlord (fingers crossed). Maybe they’ll find another location where the ballroom & Latin school of dance studio can thrive (fingers and toes crossed). Either way, they need our help. A Go Fund Me account has been opened, and if all of us contribute even just $5 or $10, we can help save a dance studio that makes so many dreams come true, it’s more a dream machine than it is a local small business.

I can’t help but think back to the last time Andy and I danced together. We waltzed to Bob Dylan’s gorgeous “When the Deal Goes Down.” 

We had no way of knowing that it would be a long, long time before we would again pause the onrush of time as we traveled the four corners of Andy’s dance studio. But never in a zillion years could we have guessed at a sinister foreshadowing of the song’s title. 

I just can’t bear the thought of Andy’s deal going down.

Please consider making a donation to the GoFundMe effort on behalf of Starz Ballroom Westlake. If all of my friends give just $5.00, Andy can keep teaching people like me how to overcome their fears and feel at home in a place where we’ve always longed to belong.