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Ballroom, Latin, swing classes available in Perham

A completely unique business is dancing into Perham.

The Promenade Ballroom, a social dance studio, is opening in mid-March by instructor Paul Mathieu.

A grand opening is planned at the studio, located in the former New Creation Lutheran Church office building in Perham.

Participants will learn social dance including ballroom, swing, country western and Latin dancing. Classes are geared toward adult couples and singles in an alcohol and smoke-free atmosphere.

Mathieu also plans to have the space available as a ballroom and reception hall, and could potentially exercise courses depending on the level of interest.

Mathieu, a dance instructor with 20 years of experience, moved back to Perham after 17 years in Kansas. He is originally from the area and his mother and sister have lived in Perham for several years. He spent seven months looking for work and decided to fall back on what he enjoyed: dance.

Mathieu began dancing at age 8. He took jazz and tap as his sister took dance classes and "mom had to put me some place," he said.

He said dancing helped him overcome extreme shyness as a child and speaks highly of the benefits of dancing.

"I found it was such a good social skill for me," he said. "It helped me build relationships that otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do."

He said that dance classes aren't just to "correct two left feet," but is just as much for relationship counseling.

"Dancing is good for communication and partnership skills in a relationship," he said.

He chose to open the studio in Perham because it fit a need.

"I did a complete market study of the area and there's no type of competition," he said. "The closest dance studios were in Fargo. But there was a tremendous amount of interest and there's definitely a market for people here."

Mathieu will have parties at the studio every month, with some open to the public and others just for students. He is now offering a special deal to introduce the community to the business. He is charging $40 for two private lessons and a group lesson. If singles or couples want to take classes, Mathieu will help them decide which dances they want to learn and work up a three to six month lesson plan.

Classes will be held mostly in the afternoons and evenings for seven days a week initially. Students age 15 and older will be accepted.

"We're here to fix your two left feet," he said. "Our goal is to get people to a comfortable social dance level."

Mathieu is now preparing the studio. He is hoping to create an inviting, unintimidating environment where students will feel comfortable. He is adding tables, couches and chairs to create an outdoor café theme. He also hopes to have four fundraisers a year for the community.

Anyone interested is asked to call or stop into the studio for more information. The administrative assistant answering the phones at The Promenade Ballroom is Rita Brewer. For more information, call 218-457-0308.