I feel like I've missed a big chunk of exciting happenings on this blog! After all the build up and excitement and waiting over the past year (s) I've completely failed to announce that we were finally able to open our doors. My last blog update was lamenting the fact that we had not been given the go ahead to open and how much our industry was struggling. Well, we got the go ahead... and 2 weeks early, so things pretty quickly ramped up for us as we went into turbo planning & finishing mode!
Despite the studio being "almost ready" for around 6 months there was a remarkable amount of work to be done before we could welcome people in (there's still a remarkable amount of little things to be done - I'm assured this is normal for new builds, and also have been warned that they may never actually be done!). We called in favours, and were helped out by so many friends and family - from the wonderful Mags and her mop, Nicola and her needle (sewing needle!), Douglas and his digging, my Godfather hand delivering the mirrors, and a few pals coming round with prosecco & paintbrushes (and occasionally without the paintbrushes!). We removed the dust layer by layer, we put away all the tools. We got all the tools back out again to finish yet more "bits". We tidied up again and cleaned some more. We regularly opened up in the morning to the smell of fresh paint and to find our decorator had been in late at night (or early in the morning) and added some incredible wallpaper or finished the skirtings.
It was a busy time but it was exciting and rewarding as we saw our dream come together. The pops of colour, the carefully chosen hooks, the statement wallpaper, and the reclaimed wood handmade furniture . Every day there was something else - from a lampshade i'd bought back in February finally making it out of the box, to a delivery of bins and curtain hooks from Ikea (thanks Simon), to scouring Bethesda for plant pots and vases. All whilst still teaching online - a different room every day, avoiding the fresh paint paint, hoping the drilling wouldn't coincide with yoga but just being so happy and hyper to finally be at the finishing stages.
And then we were finished(ish)! We opened the doors to our kid's classes on 7th September.
I'll admit I struggled a bit the first week. I was nervous. I didn't know where to stand in the room. We haven't quite sorted the acoustics. I wasn't used to the stereo and kept playing tunes from Aladdin on repeat in every class. It felt strange to finally have people in here when it had become an extension of our home during lockdown and over the last 6 months.
I think I would have been nervous back in April had we opened as planned, just due to being in a new space (those of you who remember me transitioning out of the golf club to the caladh will know I'm a creature of habit and it takes me a while to settle in anywhere). But added to that the fact that I've taught only online and barely seen anyone for 6 months had me at my most stammering, introvert self.
Then there were the Covid guidelines. We read, researched, stalked other studios, went on forums, asked questions, talked and talked and talked about how to keep our students, participants and staff safe. We bought a fogger and practiced fogging stuff. We bought disposable flash mops and dettol wipes and put in place a between class cleaning system, a during class cleaning system and an end of the night routine... in addition to our cleaner who is coming throughout the week. We're doing the best we can in this regard and I think we're actually doing a great job.
It was lovely to welcome the kids into the new space that we had talked about for so very very long! I think some of them thought the "new studio" was an urban myth. For the very young ones we've been working on this their entire life.
Having the studio full of dancers with different dance teachers coming and going has quickly become the norm, and what a welcome norm it is. I love the buzz that we now have from having 2 studios being used by a variety of teachers and dance schools - as I arrive to teach my class I can hear the Highland dancers working on jumps, or the music from ballet class drifting out into the hall way.
There is a specific smell of dance studios (it's probably sweat! But i just think of it as "Dance Studio smell"). Our studio mainly smells new (new paint, new floor smell), clean (Isha santiser thank you for smelling so amazing!!!) and occasionally alcoholic (I swear it's the fogger and not just my weekend disco for one! Although that has happened too). But I think I'm starting to get a whiff of that reassuring "dance studio smell" - and I love it!
Of course it would all be different if we weren't living through Covid times... We would have had a party for all our neighbours, and another for all our participants. Things would have been different inside too... We made our reception area with parents in mind - imagining the mums of the p1 classes sitting and waiting excitedly as their child joined in the first ballet class. Friends catching up before and after classes. We have spaces for jackets, and changing (including individual cubicles with enough room for a parent and child) and a water refill station... but at the moment it's all out of use.
Not being able to use the building fully is sad but the fact that it's open is very, very happy! We've waited so long that we can wait a little longer.
So now it's time to get everyone else back in the building (adults I haven't forgotten you - a new timetable of fitness, yoga, Pilates and all the fun is on it's way!).
As always I'm slow to change. I take a while to adjust but once I get there I will fully embrace it and before long it will be the new (and improved and ever so exciting) norm.