Before Hallie Kuperman waltzes into the first of many events planned for the Century Ballroom’s 20th anniversary celebration next month, she’s hopeful she’ll have a new lease signed that keeps people dancing in the Capitol Hill space for years to come.
Kuperman opened the Century Ballroom in 1997 in the Oddfellows Building, which has two dance venues and The Tin Table restaurant across the hall.
She had been teaching social dance through Swing Girls, a company she founded, and renting space in the Oddfellows Building. Kuperman said she realized Seattle was missing a place where people could not only social dance, but sit down and listen to music, grab a drink or share a meal.
“It didn’t exist,” she said, “and that room is beautiful, and if you put those two things together, it felt like the perfect melding of things together.”
Renovating the cafe took longer than the ballroom, she said.
“I sort of had a built-in clientele in the beginning, because I was already teaching dance and we had people already coming there,” Kuperman said.
Over time the Century Ballroom added live music, more dance styles and a number of ongoing events.
The Oddfellows Building sold to developer Ted Schroth in 2008, and was updated at that time.
Kuperman said the Century Ballroom felt the impact.
“I think that the business changed a lot when the building was sold,” she said, “just financially that was a big hit for us.”
While the Century Ballroom weathered that storm, parking woes were next.
“Those changes affected us more than anything,” Kuperman said. “Our income dropped exponentially when the parking changed and they started putting meters in.”
About 150 more paid parking stalls are to be added in the Pike/Pine corridor this year, with late-night paid parking hours expected in late 2017.
The Oddfellows Building was listed for sale last year, with a $30 million asking price.
“I would hope that someone wouldn’t want to come in and do something different with it,” Kuperman said. “It would be tragic.”
Parking being what it is in Capitol Hill, Kuperman said she sees a lot of locals coming in to dance, eat and listen to music.
“That’s a community builder,” she said, “so that’s what’s so great about it.”
Kuperman added the Century Ballroom has also served as a venue over the years for meetings, political events, memorial services, weddings and parties.
A packed schedule of 20th anniversary events in February reflects the longtime relationship Kuperman has had with these bands, she said, such as the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, which wasn’t a Grammy Award-winning band the first time it played at Century Ballroom.
“They’re such a big band though, so it’s hard to afford,” Kuperman said. “This is our anniversary party, and we need to have music that we love, and that we’re going to dance to on CD anyway.”
Find a full list of events and ticket information at www.CenturyBallroom.com.