Help save Shawn Gardner Dancing


***Important note as we've been contacted by people concerned about fees:
Go fund me fee is 2.9% and  .30 per transaction.   
At the end, you will also see a "tip" amount to Go fund me.
Please notice the drop-down screen where you can enter 'other' then zero if you prefer not to tip GFM since they've already collected fees.

Hi there, my name is Shawn Gardner.
I have been teaching dance to people of all ages and skill levels for the past 25 years.  I knew my entire life I would be a dance teacher. Some of you know me as your previous dance coach many years ago when I specialized in teaching youth dance classes and programs. Some of you know me as the organizer that hosted all those fun Salsa Fusion events at local restaurants and free Salsa in the park events throughout Portland. Some of you know me as the ballroom competitor and professional dancer that has built up and grown in the beautiful facility previously known as The Ballroom Dance Company since 2007. Most of you now know me as the business owner that recently took over that facility in an attempt to save it as a dance venue when it was sold in July 2019.

Now... most of you already know the story about the new property owners offering my company the empty ballroom at the very last minute.  It was devastating and a blessing all at once. I had already been pursuing a different building about a mile away but had not signed a lease yet.  I wish they hadn’t waited till the building emptied to decide they didn’t need it for themselves, but when it all came down to it, it was an opportunity to stay in my dance home and keep it as a dance venue for our community, so I took a leap of faith! 

Taking on the Ballroom project was very challenging as we faced many building and administrative issues from the start.  We had no money and limited staff but we found a way to at least get started. Volunteers, students and friends all helped in the transition as we took over.  We wanted to give the building a fresh start and make fun additions that went along with our new business plan.  Everyday I felt challenged in a new way and didn’t feel ready to take on this huge Ballroom but for some reason I had faith it would work. God blessed my company with this amazing opportunity. The facility was truly meant to be a Dance, Fitness and event center and I knew we could achieve this so we pushed forward!

I invested all my personal money and time into this project, spending thousands on Facebook ads and marketing till 3am daily just to get people in the doors. We kicked off the Fall 2019 with over 35 weekly dance and fitness classes for all ages and skill levels. We quickly grew to the home of over 20 well rounded and unique instructors.  We hosted Friday night socials with Country Line Dancing, Salsa, Bachata, Cumbia and a full bar.  We started an event rental process and started giving tours for private events such as weddings, Quinceaneras, formals and other community events.  Our calendar started to book very fast!  Our weekly friday night socials grew to an average of 250 people in attendance.   We hosted 350 people at Valentines and 400+ at our New Years 2020. Our Sunday night weekly dance social started with around 40 people and grew to an average of 120 people every Sunday. Finally in Feb. 2020, just 8 months after taking on this huge project, we were shocked when we actually broke even! Our private event calendar was booking fast, we had some nights that we were running up to 5 classes at once,  I was personally teaching classes with over 50 people and we were on track for a very bright future! Our plans for a re-branding and grand opening were on schedule for the summer of 2020!

Then, COVID-19 struck our nation and way of life...

As a business that specializes in social contact and large gatherings, we have suffered an extreme loss. We applied for all the government assistance and grants but have gotten very minimal help thus far. All of our private rentals that carry our facility financially have canceled or moved to next year. Just our private rental loss due to Covid is over 100K.  Day-to-day income loss is close to 400K, Membership loss is around 66K. 

At the start of the pandemic, we let our landlords know that we would need to close for the time being and wait out the situation as we didn't have anything we could offer at the time due to restrictions.  They asked us to reconsider and please try to  keep our name alive.  After much hesitation, we agreed to try to find creative offerings to keep people engaged and coming to the ballroom.  Although we knew small offerings here and there would not scratch the surface of the financial problem we were facing, no one knew what to expect so we agreed to stay focused on the future per the landlord's request.

We did our best to offer creative options:
We offered Zoom classes for 6 months in our empty and dark ballroom and started a few in person socially distanced classes. As we started in person classes, we kept everything outdoors through the summer months and found creative ways to provide dance opportunities to the community.  We put up outdoor sun shades and offered Zumba in our parking lot as well as dance socials. People came from all over and loved the creative efforts.   Dance and fitness is important for health and happiness and there were many positive people encouraging us to keep going for this reason.  Facing constantly changing guidelines from our Government may have been the worst part.  No help was provided and we were expected to follow along with it all. Covid policies changed with only a few days notice and no time to prepare for the future- we never knew how to plan or what to expect.  We knew this was an unprecedented time so we did our best to stay positive and keep people excited in our current offerings.  Although our company lost close to all the money we had with our initial ramp up of business, we kept trying and purchased outdoor tents, fencing, flooring and more to keep going with these offerings into the fall. We had faith to keep pushing forward.

Then the Oregon fires started...
The little business we had built up this summer came crashing down again. We were beyond frustrated as the obstacles, restrictions and bills kept coming. We removed our outdoor sun shades due to the bad weather and air conditions.  Rainy weather was on it's way and were stopped in our tracks without the ability to run business at all during this time.  Our business was frustrated witnessing this devastating time when it was ok to burn a business down but not ok to run one.  The hypocrisy from our state leadership was beyond comprehensible.

So we tried again: 
When the air cleared, we offered some indoor dance options for those people that wanted to attend through October and even started offering some same partner dance classes for the first time during the pandemic that were showing very positive growth.  People came from all over to take dance classes with us as our space was large enough to accommodate with the required guidelines. We started indoor socially distanced Zumba that was popular and started to grow. We held some indoor 'same partner' dance socials that were very popular among our Salsa and Country fans.

Then the Two week freeze happened and the devastating cycle continued...

After the two week freeze, most small businesses were allowed to open, however as our Government has deemed fitness non-essential.

***Fitness is key to a healthy immune system. It makes you strong, happy, confident and healthy. When you are happy, you continue to lead that happy/ healthy lifestyle.  It will help your chances of catching COVID and if you should, you may fight it off easier because you are healthier.  Dance, music and socializing fills the soul and brings us together for shared happiness. This missing piece out of our lives is truly essential and we need it now more than ever. It’s absolutely mind boggling that you can pack in like sardines at the big box corporate stores and malls but you can’t take a dance or fitness classes in huge facilities.  The recent unfair shut down of the fitness sector (which includes dance studios) is the last straw for us.  We will not make it through this without the help of the promised government funding  and the help of our followers. 

How we are trying to move forward: 

We have recently sent out a letter to several hundred small businesses in the dance, fitness and event industries inviting them to reach out to us if they need space to continue their business plans. We are seeking renters or partnerships to join up with us in this amazing venue and move forward in collaboration to promote the combine center.  We are even exploring daytime educational options for parents that would like a new alternative.  We have huge goals and our summer 2021 is looking very promising with private rentals again. We have plans to re-brand to the new Dance, Fitness and event center of the westside.  Prior to Covid, we were awarded a matching city grant that will help us pay for a beautiful new patio structure, new signage and landscaping as well.  We are looking for renters, partnership or private investors into our plan.  Finally- after hundreds of hours, we have even selected the NEW NAME and have new signs designed and waiting in the wings ready to be made!

Our current situation at the ballroom:
Our landlords are working with us in this hard time and have graciously frozen our rent payments until we are back in business.  We have not paid our rent for 10 months now due to no income. The rent is not forgiven however and will all come due over the next 5-year lease term if we sign onto one.  We are in discussion of an extension if we can get the needed funding to help us continue forward.  We had originally planned on at least 10 years at the Ballroom after our first initial short term lease. Due to the pandemic, many things have obviously changed but we are still hopeful to move forward.  

How your donation will help:
Since applying in March and fighting everyday for it, SGD was never provided the promised EIDL (Economic injury disaster loan) through the SBA.  This was a 150K loan that was promised to ALL small businesses and due to the back log, broken communication/ organization and now even recent fraud issues within the SBA loan programs, we are starting to lose all hope of ever getting this.  It's unfortunately becoming more clear that our business type is not a priority in providing assistance to recover losses or assisting us in remaining closed. Your contribution will  help meet the needs of those missing funds that were never provided.   The funds will help pay for staff to continue working on our plan to move forward and pay some over due rent and bills that the EIDL was initially intended for.  This will not solve everything  however. We will still need to continue fighting for small business grants and focus on finding some additional renters to help with the continuation of our future plans at the Ballroom. Your generous donation will help our company continue  fighting to find some balance with our finances. We are currently over the goal of our go fund me in debt due to pandemic restrictions.   If enough donations are collected, it will essentially be replacing the promised EIDL loan that was never provided. 

What it will mean:
With your generous gift, not only will you be helping our business that has provided so much joy to so many over the years, but you will be contributing to the efforts of helping keep the ballroom available for our Westside community.  The venue that has been home to not only SGD as a business, but many other independent instructors, will also benefit from your gift.  We want to express the importance of keeping this venue available for the community as a dance, fitness and event center that has been enjoyed by so many.  The ballroom offers a very large, unique space for private events, community events as well as dance and fitness classes that are so important to continued health and happiness.  The westside does not have another space like it so we desperately trying to keep it alive. Your thoughtful response will be so greatly appreciated and we will do our very best to continue fighting for our future. 

Our time is running low:
We are kicking off this fundraiser in early January 2021 and need to make decisions about our future in February. The fundraiser will be available for later or continued donations until the goal is met or it is no longer needed.  We realize our goal is a large amount but it is necessary to move forward due to the lack of promised Government funding.  We also realize these times are unknown and everyone is saving for their futures.  Every little bit adds up and we would love your consideration in helping.  We have a tremendous base of loyal fans, friends and students and we are hopeful our go fund me campaign will be successful.  If we are not, we will continue trying to find other means to continue on.

If you prefer and are willing, we would much rather have you as a member of our facility! Memberships are available for only $75/ month and include ALL Dance & Fitness classes on our calendar!   If you lock in your rate now, you will be able to keep that forever- even when we add many more classes in the future!  Your Membership will be helping SGD get back on our feet again and help you establish a new routine to get back to moving and socializing again. You can sign up online HERE .  We would love you support with a monthly membership!

Will our company make it?
In the beginning... we thought yes
in the middle... we thought yes
and now... we still hope and pray for yes.
We cannot make any promises that we will, however we can promise that we will fight until the very end trying. 

*If for some reason we are not able to meet our goals or not able to move forward at the ballroom, your gift will still help the business tremendously. It will be made payable to Shawn Gardner Dancing LLC. If you would like to see our business plan move forward and help the chances of the ballroom staying a part of our dance community, we would be so grateful if you would consider donating to our cause in ONCE AGAIN... trying to save the ballroom. 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and we hope to see you soon in class!

Please view the VIDEO OF OUR STORY (top of the go fund me page)

Visit our website for more information.

***Important note as we've been contacted by people concerned about fees:
Go fund me fee is 2.9% and  .30 per transaction.   
At the end, you will also see a "tip" amount to Go fund me.
Please notice the drop-down screen where you can enter 'other' then zero if you prefer not to tip GFM since they've already collected fees.
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