Pubdate: Wed 16, Sep 1998
Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)

TEN years ago, couples swirled and floated across the floorboards of the
Arthur Murray Dance Studios, high on the romance of learning the waltz and
the foxtrot.

Now, junkies getting high on heroin squat in the derelict inner-city
building and make filthy beds on the dance floor.

The three-level building at 31 Gilbert Pl has been unoccupied for years. In
1990 the dance studios, then in the basement, moved to Grote St.

Yesterday, Adelaide police and the dog squad swooped on the premises about
1.30pm after a member of the public reported people breaking into the

After an extensive search, police found four men in the building. Makeshift
beds and a small television set were the sum total of the furniture. Dozens
of used syringes were found strewn across the floor.

The squatters were moved out and searched by police. One man was reported
for possession of a drug implement.

A former owner of the dance studios, Mr George Fiorita, said it was sad the
building was now a home to junkies.

"The dance studio always had a fantastic atmosphere," he said. "Everyone
always felt comfortable there and enjoyed themselves dancing.

"We taught countless couples how to dance their wedding waltz, or do the
foxtrot, in that building.

"Our height came in the late 1980s, after the movie Dirty Dancing was

"In a week, we would have more than 250 people come through the studio. On
Friday nights, we held social nights and fancy dress parties where more than
100 people would attend.

"It is a real shame that it has gone that way. I don't know why it hasn't
been updated."

Mr Fiorita now runs two studios in Melbourne with his partner, Ms Jaqueline

The building was once the centre of a notorious court battle. In 1983, it
was sold for $190,000, only to be sold six years later for $4.2 million.

A long-running court battle over the contentious sale eventually resulted in
an out-of-court settlement.

More recent plans to convert the building into a bar and tavern were dumped
in April last year.

Two months ago, it was sold at auction for $337,000.

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Checked-by: Rolf Ernst