How 3 men went from former Marines to ballroom dance teachers


HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – At the Fred Astaire Dance Studio on Westheimer, classes are still in full swing.

“The people who get the most attention are on the dance floor,” said Patrick Stuckwish, former owner of a dance studio turned Navy.

Those who gain attention break stereotypes.

“I was stationed in Indian Head, Maryland,” said Leon Flores, former Marine.

“I served from 1978 to 1982,” said Hal Hoodwin, a former Marine.

Most people wouldn’t expect three Navy veterans and a third degree black belt karate student to be dancers.

“I think ‘Dancing With the Stars’ really helped popularize this,” Carter Erwin said.

Erwin went from karate to cha-cha dancing with his wife, and they love every minute of it.

“It’s very structured, but at the same time it’s liberating and liberating,” Erwin said. “Once you get the concept of it, you let go and have fun with it.”

“When I was overseas, I made a to-do list,” Stuckwish said.

His bucket list included ballroom dancing and entry to the police academy, but instead, he owns a dance studio.

“It’s been a lot of hard work, dedication and really working for it,” Stuckwish said.

These men said it was certainly not easy, but it was very rewarding.

“For me, the most masculine feeling I will ever have is when I can take any woman to the dance floor,” said Leon Flores.

After serving, Flores took a few dance lessons and got hooked. He is now a dance teacher.

“I learned to engage with a woman with a floor and a beauty effect, and it’s magical,” Hoodwin said.

Dancing not only taught Hoodwin great moves, it actually led him straight to the love of his life.

“I introduced myself and she was there. The rest is history,” Hoodwin said.

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