Suchu’s GOOFy New Strip Center Home Is Where Patrick Swayze Learned To Dance

Suchu Dance, 3480 Ella Blvd., Ella Plaza Shopping Center, Oak Forest, Houston

The 1,500-sq.-ft. space deep in the crotch of the Ella Plaza Shopping Center just south of the railroad tracks at 3480 Ella Blvd. is the new home of modern dance troupe Suchu Dance. It’s also the former longtime Houston haunt of Patsy Swayze‘s Houston JazzBallet Company and the Swayze School of Dance. Long before the dance teacher made it big with her choreography for Urban Cowboy in 1980 and decamped to Hollywood, Swayze taught hundreds of gyrating Houstonians — including her 5 children, in the strip center corner. Her son Buddy, who as Patrick Swayze went on to star in Dirty Dancing and Ghost, started barging in on classes there at the age of 3, long before playing football at Waltrip High School across the street; he met his wife, Lisa Niemi, in the strip-center studio as well. He died from pancreatic cancer in 2009; his mother passed away in California’s Simi Valley last September.


These days, the dance studio — which later served as a tile showroom and sat unoccupied for several years — is surrounded by dancer-body shapers Shipley Do-Nuts, El Rey Taqueria, and La Casa de Frida Mexican restaurant (at left in the photo). It’s also close to bars Petrol Station and Wakefield Crowbar. Suchu, led by Jennifer Wood, closed a 12-year run in a much larger space in an East Downtown building at 2201 Preston St. it called the Barnevelder Arts Center last year. Suchu will hold its first performance in its new space early next month. The company built a small gallery at the entry and a new triple-sprung floor on top of an array of installed sample tiles, its managing director reports; the dance floor uses shims from a demolished Swayze-era wall.

Dance Source Houston took over the Barnevelder last March and renamed it The Barn.

Photo: Jennifer Wood

Somebody Put Baby in a Strip Center Corner

2 Comment

  • Mentioning Swayze without mentioning Roadhouse should be considered a capital crime

  • Glad to see some more life coming to that center. It really needs a good renovation. It has tons of potential being right on a main artery into the neighborhood.