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Shooter targets 'establishments of joy' in Monterey Park Lunar New Year mass shooting

Brittny Mejia, Gabriel San Román and Debbie Truong, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

“It’s going to take time to heal,” Michalski said. “But the love for dancing will bring us back together. We won’t let anything like this happen again to take our happiness away.”

Star Ballroom Dance Studio, founded 30 years ago, is a fixture in the city.

Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo and Councilman Thomas Wong haven’t been to the ballroom, but both said it’s a popular dance hall for Chinese American immigrants.

“It’s been there for years,” Wong said. “It’s been well-known in the community for a while.”

Although the demographic of the ballroom skews older, Lo said, the place attracts young and old alike — as people look for a place to socialize, especially in a group setting.

International ballroom competitors teach waltz, tango and Chinese dance classes. Instructors described a spacious studio, which — along with dancing — offers party room rentals and karaoke happy hour.

 

More than 10,000 square feet of floor space make it “one of the largest dance studios in town,” according to Star’s website, which estimates that the studio has served more than 10,000 students.

Here, Michalski, 50, teaches ballroom dancing styles five days a week. Originally from Poland, he said he felt welcomed by his students, who are mostly Chinese American.

Monterey Park, a city of 61,000 in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, is 65% Asian American, 27% Latino and 6% white, according to census data.

“Star Ballroom is where people go to de-stress from daily routines and from work,” Michalski said. “The studio owner always smiled and welcomed everyone. We felt like a very big Monterey Park dance family.”

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