This past weekend our studios held not 1, not 2, but 3 cookouts throughout the Southland. The cookout is an Annual Tradition held by our studios to celebrate the end of the International Dance Festival, a contest held by Arthur Murray Studios worldwide on a quest for highest participation during a 6 week time period.
Cookout #1: Santa Barbara
In the far north, the Santa Barbara studio had its first cookout ever! It was held at Tucker’s Grove Park, had 25 people in attendance, twas a huge success. Aside from the half-blinded, three-legged race, the most notable event was actually the dessert. While most studios are used to the egg toss and volleyball tournament traditions, Santa Barbara started its own by making their very own ice cream with liquid nitrogen!
Diane Salazar, a student of the studio for over 12 years, works with liquid nitrogen as an engineer and brought some to experiment with. Not only was the ice cream as cold and creamy as ever, it was a fun time creating and working together with a delicious reward in the end.
Cookout #2: San Diego County
Held at the San Dieguito Park in Del Mar, the San Diego County cookout included the Solana Beach, Oceanside, and San Diego studios. It was a busy day full of the traditional egg toss and volleyball tournaments with San Diego and Oceanside tying for the volleyball and Urs (Franchisee of Oceanside and Solana Beach) and Ian Green (Solana Beach Student) winning the Egg Toss.
Unique to the San Diego Cookout was a fancy little game known as “Egg Roulette” and boy was it a gamble. Students and staff alike took their chances by randomly selecting an egg, either hard-boiled or raw, from a carton and hitting the egg against their forehead. Unbeknownst to them, before the studio managers took their turn all hard-boiled eggs were removed from the pile prior to picking, making it an especially exciting event to remember.
Cookout #3: Orange County
Perhaps the biggest cookout of the weekend was the Orange County Cookout, which included the Orange, Costa Mesa, Long Beach, Lake Forest, Torrance, and Riverside studios.
The day started with lots of hamburgers and hot dogs, grilled by Steve Platt himself, accompanied by card games, “Cheat Your Neighbor” and “Apples to Apples”, frisbee tossing, and each of the studios warming up for the coveted volleyball tournament. Each of the studios were in full school spirit with many schools having team shirts, expressive cheers, and lots of smiling faces.
The Egg Toss Championship went to Scott (Long Beach Instructor) and Liz Vega (Long Beach Student) and the Volleyball to none other than the Orange Studio! Although they had won the previous year, it was still a surprise and big celebration ensued. It seemed that every year prior, Tommy Belmontez (Franchisee of Orange and Riverside) was in attendance at the cookout, the studio would lose and every year he wasn’t, the studio would win. This year, the curse was finally broken and the winning point was served by Tommy himself.
The day wouldn’t be complete without a surprise drenching, using the leftover buckets of ice water, of Steve Platt. Year after year, the instructors find new ways to catch him off guard at just the right moment to make another great memory to finish off the cookout.
So why the cookout?
While it doesn’t help polish our dancing skills, the annual cookouts are each a crucial part of the studio calendar. Not only is it the one time a year you get to see your instructors in normal people clothes and realize they are actually humans (not magical dancing unicorns), it’s the one time of year that we gather outside the studio not to dance. That’s because we believe that Arthur Murray’s is so much more than a dance studio, but a special group of people who all share the same passion.
More important than any pattern, routine, or level a student will learn and achieve, we want every single person that walks in the door to experience the community. We aren’t just a studio, we’re a family, and the cookout is one big family reunion.