MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — Located on a busy shopping street between supermarkets and Chinese restaurants, Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park is a popular hangout for lovers of ballroom dancing in the Los Angeles area, promising to train attendees in anything. from tango to fox trot.
“That place is always full, man,” said Alejandro Delatorre, 40, a dance instructor who worked at the place last year and arrived early Sunday after 10 people were killed and 10 others wounded in a shooting. night. He said that more than 90 percent of Star Dance’s clientele were Asian-American.
On Saturday nights they drew huge crowds, filling the floor with ballroom dancers of all ages. The playlist often included songs in Chinese, said Walter Calderon, 47, a dance teacher in Orange County. “It’s a huge dance floor: 6,000 square feet, with lots of parking,” he said. “Most of the dancers go there.” The venue posts its hours online in English and Chinese.
When Monterey Park police arrived at the scene late Saturday, dozens of people were leaving the scene, some with injuries, authorities said. In all, five women and five men were killed in the shooting, and at least 10 more were wounded, some seriously.
Mr. Calderón said the dance venue would have been especially packed on Saturday, Lunar New Year’s Eve. “There would have been hundreds and hundreds of people there,” he said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it believed the shooting in Star was related to an incident in nearby Alhambra that occurred about 20 minutes after the Monterey Park shooting. The department said people at a dance venue seized a firearm from a man who then fled the scene. Local media identified that venue as Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio.
On Sunday morning, a woman arrived at the Lai Lai, entered the building using a key code, and put up a sign saying the studio was closed “in commemoration of the Star Dance tragedy.” She said nothing to two reporters who were present when she got into her car and drove away from her.
In Monterey Park, the Garvey Street area outside of Star Dance remained blocked off by police Sunday morning. Signs of the Lunar New Year celebration that had taken place the day before were still evident, including a small temporary stage and a red banner reading, “Happy Year of the Rabbit!”