Borderline Strong is More Than a Hashtag
Smiling faces and happy hearts filled the dance floor at what will soon be renovated to become BL Dancehall and Saloon.
Shortly after they got the keys, owners Brian Hynes and Troy Hale brought the Borderline family together in what will be our temporary home for the first time since the November 7, 2018 tragedy that closed the doors and scattered staff, as well as the dance family to the winds for over a year. Though most of us have found places to dance, and been given places with Borderline sponsored nights, it’s not the same as having a place filled with our own family energy; a place where once again we’re the hosts instead of the visitors.
The strength and resiliency of our community shows up in everything we do. Our family have been sorely tested, yet overall, it’s brought us closer together than ever. We see familiar faces at other locations and, though we don’t always know each other by name, hugs are shared because they’re familiar faces and family. We need no other reason.
Showing Our Love in Many Ways
Several people have invested time, money, and creative talents to protect and maintain the memorial which remains in front of our old home where we will one day return, even if it’s a couple of years off. The love and care they give, watering flowers, replacing candles, even cleaning up after vandals is a clear demonstration of a deep, enduring connection neither anger, hate, nor disrespect can weaken.
The waiting will be easier now we have a place which already feels like our old home; the walls resonating with the love and energy unique to Borderline. Like our original home, the new bar is a converted restaurant so instead of dark, blank walls, a row of windows faces the parking lot, giving the place a warm, welcoming feel. A large, glassed in patio gives us a place to cool off a bit after the DJ’s have kept us on the floor for song after song. (Think Garth Brooks’ “Long-necked Bottle) Familiar faces man the bar, the doors, and the DJ booth, playing the music and dances we all know and love.
I’m inspired and overjoyed by the pictures filling the Facebook groups created over the last year; faces aglow with joy and hope; a dance floor once again filled with “the usual suspects”. Photos overflow onto personal pages proving again that there are no strangers when the Borderline family gathers.
No Place Like Home
The efforts of Brian, Troy, and the Borderline staff over the last year or so are evident in the plans for a new dance floor and decor, and a feel that up to now, could be found nowhere else but Borderline. The months since the tragedy have to have been especially difficult for the people who have worked so hard to ensure we keep dancing; the owners and management, the instructors, the DJ’s, and the always smiling staff whose faces we saw at the front of the house every week.
Seeing everyone together again, some with small children in tow was, in my opinion, one of the most healing experiences we’ve had so far. Opening the place before renovations began so we could see where we’ll once again meet regularly, and in the very near future was an act which demonstrates how enormous and all-encompassing the heart and soul of Borderline truly is. In the immortal words of Judy Garland:
There’s no place like home!
The Family Who Stays Together Thrives Together
So many people have contributed to keeping the family together; our unique connections alive. Instructors who opened their homes or found alternate venues for dancing and workshops, Brian who worked out an arrangement for Borderline nights at the Canyon, DJ Josh who set up his equipment in parking lots, malls, barns, and finally, BL Dancehall and Saloon to keep us dancing while Borderline undergoes major renovations. Not to be overlooked are fellow dancers who opened their homes and barns, or arranged for space, security, and whatever else we needed to both dance and feel safe.
Most of all, we have a family who pulled together, and never gave up hope that our home would be rebuilt. The fundraisers, the Healing Garden built in a ridiculously short amount of time, the lights and orbs on the oak tree in the Borderline parking lot, the beautiful memorial which, though damaged by weather and vandals, continues to be lovingly maintained; all give proof our family can be battered but never broken.
For over a year, the Borderline family has gathered in a multitude of places ranging from malls, to churches, to other clubs, and even private homes. Sometimes, we’ve talked, others, danced, but we’ve always shared hugs, laughter, and tears.
Celebrating Life and Lives with Dance
We marked the week of the one year anniversary with memorials and celebrations, but most notably by ceremonies and dancing in a beautiful garden dedicated, not only to the 12 souls we lost, but to the resiliency and cohesiveness of the country dance community, and specifically, the Borderline family. Supported by the City of Thousand Oaks, the garden was completed in a superhuman amount of time. The magnitude of the project would normally take years, but was completed in months.
The bonds, the hopes, the continued belief that Borderline would return in physical form at some point remained alive without question. We all simply believed. As we became dancing vagabonds, traveling near and far to keep our love of dancing alive, and to remain connected with the rest of our family, we sometimes grew frustrated with always being the visitors and never the hosts, though many venues welcomed us with open arms.
A Home of Our Own Again
What we’ve most wanted; most needed over the last year was to be back in a home of our own. Brian, Troy, and the Borderline staff, displaced themselves, knew it was the missing piece in everyone’s healing process, and worked tirelessly to resolve what I can only think have been gargantuan issues standing between the dream and the reality. Rumors flew; hopes rose and fell, but we waited for the official word to come from Brian.
Brian along with his partner, Troy did not disappoint. Though it’s a good news-bad news scenario for now, they’ve given us something we never expected while what they’re saying could be a 2-year process to rebuild our home runs its course. They found an existing location which, with a few changes can be our temporary home. Where once again, we have a place we can be the hosts instead of the visitors.
Shortly after they got the keys, the new sign went up and the dance family was able to spend a few hours not only checking out our temporary home, but christening it in the best way we know how. While DJ Josh Kelly kept the music going, we tore up the floor (figuratively, of course) with 5 hours of dancing, re-connecting, hugging, laughter, and maybe a few tears. Knowing we’d have a home in a matter of weeks instead of months or years created a euphoria that continues long after the music stopped, the lights went out, and the doors were locked.
Healing Hearts and Happy Faces
An undeniable energy permeated the bar; a euphoria arising from the knowledge we’d soon be back in a place of our own where the faces we’d seen nearly every week for years would once again fill every nook and cranny; where the staff we’d come to know and love would be serving drinks and food, keeping the place running smoothly, greeting regulars with hugs and smiles, and best of all, keeping us dancing.
I know I wasn’t alone with a smile that seemed permanently affixed to my face, and an inability to sit for more than a couple of minutes before jumping up to dance or greet another family member.
Our hearts might have been shattered on November 7, 2018, but on December 14, 2019, Brian and his tireless team showed us how hard they’ve been working to help put those collective hearts back together, perhaps broken and bruised, but overall, stronger and more resilient than anyone would have guessed.
A Bright Light Pierces the Darkness
The work on our temporary home has just begun but will soon ring with laughter, music, and stomping feet. Our original home will take awhile longer, but with a place to grow our healing energy in the best way we know how, the wait and sense of loss won’t feel as intense as it has up to now.
We have a place to once again celebrate birthdays, engagements, retirements, anniversaries, and everything else we’ve grown accustomed to sharing with our dance family. Every celebration missed over the last year left a hole in our hearts no amount of pictures from previous celebrations could fill. Thankfully, we don’t have to find alternative places to celebrate in the coming year, though I, for one won’t take having that special place for granted ever again.
Above all, what Brian, Troy, and their team have done casts a much wider net. Amidst the anger and violence which has cast dark clouds on our society in the last few years, re-opening Borderline, and, in the interim, opening BL Dancehall and Saloon sets a precedent for clubs closed down by violence. As much as people have been forced to endure, love will always win.
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward