Sacramento dance community reacts to Monterey Park shooting

Sacramento area dancers were shocked to hear of shooting last weekend that killed 11 people at a Monterey Park dance studio.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As Southern California mourns the loss of those killed in a recent mass shooting, so too does the dance community in the Sacramento area.

Local dancers ABC10 spoke with were shocked and saddened to hear of the shooting last weekend, in which the shooter opened fire on a Monterey Park ballroom dance studio killing 11. A Lunar New Year celebration was happening at Star Dance Studio at the time of the shooting .

The shooter then entered another dance hall a few miles away, Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra, where the gun was pulled from his hands, preventing further tragedy.

The victims of the Monterey Park shooting range in age from 57-76, including a Star Dance Studio regular and others who shared a love of dance.

“Because it’s ballroom dancing, it really hit home because that’s what we do,” said Ed Law, president of Tsubaki Dance Club, a Sacramento area ballroom dance group formed in the 90s.

Law said back then, Tsubaki Dance Club was primarily a Japanese American group. Since then, it has grown to encompass dance lovers from many cultural backgrounds.

“Japanese Americans had a tradition dating back to World War II internment camps. They had nothing to do so they picked up ballroom dancing,” he said.

Law said when he started with his wife years ago, he had two left feet but has since developed a love of dance.

Tsubaki has resumed holding monthly dance socials for their members after putting them on hold due to the pandemic.

“Our membership, they tend to be older senior citizens so it’s just a good way for them to get together,” Law said. “For the New Year’s Eve dance, everybody was glad to get back together and moving again with some great music and good fellowship.”

Family members of the Monterey Park victims said their loved ones were celebrating the Lunar New Year Saturday night by dancing with friends until the celebration took a tragic turn.

“Just such a tragic event, so horrible, our hearts go out to them,” said Amber Kaufman, one of the owners of Spotlight Ballroom in Sacramento.

She said it was difficult to hear news of the shooting, especially at another dance studio, which are typically places where people go to have fun and find community.

“People come here and they find their friends, their core group, their family–we are a big community and it spans from here to the other side of the world,” said Kaufman.

Even though the shooting happened down in Southern California, Kaufman said safety is a top priority and they’re going to continue to remain vigilant. She said they are also going to continue to support the dance community.

“Ballroom dancing means life it is everything,” she said. “It’s really been my family, my friends.”

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