Our History

The story behind The Hip Room Dance Studio.

International Moves, Tampa Roots

The Hip Room Dance Studio started in 2013, but our roots reach much further back. Our dance instructors have danced competitively around the world in every dance style (including Bollywood). While their experience is varied and broad, they all have two things in common: love of dance and a passion for Tampa Bay.

But the real story begins with the founders of The Hip Room: Rita Bauer and Matthew Garfinkle.

Matthew, a lifelong dancer and long-time Tampa resident, took the leap from dancer to dance instructor in 2006, giving dance lessons at local studios.

Rita signed on as a  student and fell in love with the art form. For Rita, however, there was one problem. While the dance studios in the area offered excellent instruction, they followed rigid programs that didn’t allow students any freedom in deciding what they would learn.

The fixed curriculum weighed Matthew down as well. They wanted their students to love dance, and a one-size-fits-all approach simply didn’t work for most students.

Rita and Matthew decided it was time to create a different type of Tampa dance studio. A dance studio that put the student at the center of the curriculum, and the love at the core of the dance.

Move your hips, move your soul.

The Hip Room Dance Studio was born.