StayLocal - shopkeeper
Shopkeeper Stories
The Shopkeeper Stories series shares the vision and personality of New Orleans business owners. Locally owned businesses infuse New Orleans neighborhoods with their unique character, and are a big part of why we want to live, work, eat and shop here.  While drainage system improvements and road construction make “shopping local” a bit more challenging in the short term, the critical improvements mean our city will be safer and stronger for generations to come. We hope you are inspired and continue to shop small and shop local—even if it takes a little extra time!

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1307 OC Haley Blvd, Suite 309
New Orleans, LA 70113
(504) 252-1259

Independent business? You’re not alone.
Featured Business Owner
Jessica and Katarina 
Dance Quarter
Since 2012

Dance Quarter was founded by 3-time World Swing Dance Champion, Nathalie Gomes. The multi-use space, which is also available for events, is nestled within a historic firehouse located just off Louisiana Avenue. Their mission is to provide recreational dance opportunities for everyone, regardless of age, size, or experience. They offer classes from Swing & Lindy Hop to Argentine Tango & Hip-Hop.

If you're looking for an energetic environment to learn a few new dance moves or host a fun event, Dance Quarter has much to offer.

What ignited the spark in you to start your business?

Katarina: I’ve lived a few different lives and feel lucky to have done so. I am originally from Houma, LA and went to Texas Christian University to study English and Music. I ended up dancing and performing professionally. That’s where I first picked up Ballroom dance.

After living in the Northeast for several years, I was ready to come back home to New Orleans and one of the first things I did was attend an Argentine tango class. Upon entering the studio, I immediately felt at home and became friends with the other dancers and instructors. I grew close with the founder of Dance Quarter, Natalie Gomes, and began teaching at her studio. Later on, she approached me and asked if I was interested in becoming the owner of Dance Quarter-- I accepted! It was a wonderful opportunity to influence the New Orleans dance and creative community.

What makes new orleans businesses so special?
New Orleans businesses have flavor! I feel like every block and every store has a story. The businesses in this neighborhood are reflective of that. There is something here for everyone. If you can’t find a particular item or service in your area, you have to seek it out! It is just a matter of figuring out which communities and which stores offer it.

Here in New Orleans, I believe this city is a place where anyone can fit in. I find that  people will open up their homes and their business spaces. They’ll open up for almost any reason to create a space for the community. It is beneficial when business owners are able to support one another.

What are your customers?
All different kinds of people come to Dance Quarter! People come to dance with all kinds of intentions. Some people come because they are getting married soon and want to have a few moves for their special dance. Others say, “I am so socially awkward and I just need to open up.”


What advice would you give a new business owner?
Katarina: My best is advice is to be fair and nice. There is no point not to. For every situation that has come up at Dance Quarter, I aim to be fair and nice.


Meet Your Local Business Owners


Shopkeeper Stories

The Shopkeeper Stories are brought to you by StayLocal, the Greater New Orleans independent business alliance, in partnership with Uptown Messenger. This series runs every first and third Tuesday of the month.  Learn more about us and the work we do at