Our Story

Our story is a combination of dreams. Firstly the aim was Karen's dream of owning dance studios with a cafe to help subsidise any quiet classes. Then there was Alexis dream of have a Music Cafe to house Live Music gigs and dance nights.

Put the two together with a love of Dance, Music and Good Food and you have Dance with Attitude Studios and La Bodega Tapas Bar. The location of the venue was determined by the need for a building big enough to house at least 2 decent sized dance studios plus a dance cafe. At first the cafe did indeed only cater to the dance students but as time has gone on it has taken on a life of its own with people coming in for dinner, dance and entertainment and it has gained an excellent reputation for the best Spanish Tapas in Glasgow.

Now that combination of dance performance and great food is extended to Salsa & Tango nights and we have people lining up to do gigs .... it's such a unique combination ...

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History

We got the keys to 1120 South Street on Christmas Eve 2003. We started building work with the studios on the first floor and studio 2 doubled up as a cafe area for coffees, drinks, sweets and snacks & we rented the rest of the building out. We held our first dance showcases there, but after a couple of years we embarked on the next stage of knocking down walls and opening the ground left area up to house the cafe.

It was an expensive process, not least because that section of the building had been built to double as an air raid shelter during WWII and was nigh on indestructable. What was expected to take 2 days took 2 weeks. We hired in builders for the big jobs but the rest of the work was done by ourselves and the help of friends and family.

The cafe has a "Shabby Chic" style for a reason - mainly because everything is recycled because we were on such a tight budget and couldn't afford to buy new (quite handy having a scrap yard next door)! Not to say we weren't choosy about what we recycled - beautiful brass lights, steel table pedestals etc .... but it no doubt adds to the atmosphere of the place.

The dance floor in the cafe has a sprung floor with each board screwed into place, made of really tough Ybyraro hardwood - it had to be tough to withstand the Flamenco shoes. The walls & ceilings are plastered (some by Alexis) and varnished because we decided we wanted to keep that semi-industrial look. Thus the beams are painted but uncovered and tables hand built in many cases, the bar top is made of the same hardwood as our dancefloor. So recycled as necessity but still in keeping with design.

The business of getting completion certificates seemed endless and was extremely frustrating. Finally we got our licence 31st July 2008 and had not a penny to stock the bar! Again ... it was make a little then improve a little but when we got an outstanding review from Ron McKenna in the Herald Magazine we were taking by storm.

To Begin with Alexis and Karen with the help of 1 or 2 extra staff were doing all the cooking ... and we found ourselves running out to supermarkets to buy stock throughout that day .... on top of the fact that we had a Flamenco Show in the evening as part of the West End Festival which had sold out ... we just were'nt prepared for such a sudden influx of people.

Well we had to give in at one point and close the kitchen for a couple of hours to get food prepared for the evening. The next Saturday was a repeat performance for the kitchen by which time we had hired more help in, but with another sold out Cabaret Show on, we still had to close the kitchen for a couple of hours.

It's still very much a work in progress and of course the recession stopped any further improvements for the last couple of years. We used to joke that we had been in a credit crunch for years before it actually hit - but we weren't prepared for the huge effect it would have on everyone. ... But we're still here and it's a real labour of love and the support and encouragement we get from customers & friends who love our quirky little place is immeasurable, from helping to lay floors to more recently redesigning our cafe toilets.

 

Dance Studios

This was always my dream. Sprung floors, mirrored studios ..... instead of carting sound equipment around from venue to venue, working on floors that were frequently unsuitable and freedom from double booked halls. I wanted to have a huge variety of styles on the timetable and it was definitely geared towards the adult population. Being a late starter to dance myself, I knew what dance could do for people's confidence, social life and general well being and I wanted classes that would be accessible even to the ones who protested they had 2 left feet.

Christmas Eve turned out not to be the best time to get started! Everything was shut and ordering flooring and materials took forever.

We had our first event there a few days later when we invited some friends to come and celebrate,... we danced around in studio 2 with the wind whistling through the windows and calor gas fires for heating plus a floor with a fabulous camber in it (the whole thing rising towards the cetre pillar) - even our dog Dylan joined in spinning around trying to catch his tail. It was Freezing but a great celebration.

Work was done to a huge extent by ourselves and friends and family. Right down to the sprung floor in Studio 1, which Alexis designed from drawings from a Dance Brochure showing different types of floors. Every board is screwed in place - back breaking work but worth all the effort.

Before the studios we ran classes from different venues and when we bought the building people from classes came in to help us paint and clean the place which had been used for a variety of purposes over the years.

All the windows had to be replaced - at one point we had to barricade one of them up to stop it collapsing into the studio in high winds.We got the floor finished in Studio 1, got the mirrors up and held our first class there in March 2004. To begin with I was teaching all the adult and kids' streetdance & Jazz classes and Alexis covered the Salsa classes (as well as continuing all our outreach work in schools & colleges).

After the summer  Lorna Cochrane started to teach Flamenco for us and we were joined by Chris Maule and Stevie Sinclair teaching Breakin & Joanie Ward teaching Bellydance ... and so the timetable grew. Gradually we were able to drop our outreach work and concentrate on working in the studios and took on other teachers to expand the timetable. We really wanted to provide as wide a variety of styles as possible. We were donated a temporary floor for Studio 2 and once we finally moved the cafe downstairs we replaced the odd collection of mirrors we had in S2 with brand new ones.

Well, it's a bit like the Forth Road Bridge and now we find ourselves going back over things to repair and improve but we've also embarked on a new floor for Studio 2 ... so watch this space. It's been difficult to make a lot of changes when the studios were so busy, but we really want to improve changing facilities, install showers and open up that 3rd studio on ground right ... and so it goes on!

RMD

©2013 La Bodega.