In 1995, Kristina stepped onto the wood floor of The Graduate with her dance partner Steve Gee. Already a seasoned line dancer, Gee taught Kristina the two-step and she picked up quickly. It was soon muscle memory.
Twenty years later, Kristina bought a piece of The Graduate’s wood flooring — the very spot Steve taught her the two-step — to hang on the wall next to a picture of them dancing.
The Iconic San Luis Obispo landmark, The Graduate — “The Grad” to locals — has closed its doors after 45 years, but for many, it will live on.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected business, and is the main reason for The Graduate’s closure. With only outdoor dining, KSBY reported The Graduate had made less than 10 percent of normal sales.
The Gee’s found out about The Grad closing via Facebook.
“I feel like our relationship really developed there,” said Gee. “If we hadn’t had The Grad to dance at, I’m not sure what would have brought us together.”
As students, after a long night of dancing, most often till 1 a.m., they’d often head over to Denny’s for milkshakes.
Now married with three kids, the couple still remained active in The Grad community. Steve has been going twice a week for several years and Kristina in the summers. In the last few weeks before closing they were there three times a week.
“And it’s just really sad,” said Gee. “It’s been such a big part of our lives. I mean, we’ve been going there for more than 20 years. It almost felt like death in the family just because it was such a big part of our life.”
Kristina also bought a piece of the dance floor where Steve taught her to two-step so they could hang it on the wall with a picture of them dancing.
“We went from friends to boyfriend/girlfriend on that dance floor,” said Gee. “I always tell people I fell in love with Steve while dancing on the floor of the Graduate.”
Steve and Kristina were able to be a part of The Grad community long-enough to see their relationship flourish. Current Cal Poly students and line dancers are not as lucky.
Political science junior Sarah Hess found out about The Grad closing via Instagram.
“I was in denial,” said Hess. “I was just so sad. You know, 2020 has just been a big old thumbs down from me and this was the cherry on top.”
Hess started going to The Grad her first quarter at Cal Poly and was a regular by the end of her freshman year.
“I met a bunch of people in my major who liked to go and it was our little bonding activity,” said Hess.
Every Thursday night Hess and her friends would get ready together. They would do their hair, makeup and pick their outfits out. Then they would Uber to 990 Industrial way, ready to dance.
“As college students were always just so focused on school, and it’s school all day, every day,” said Hess. “The Grad was a place for students and community members to just go and have fun and destress.”
While developing a long-term relationship, the Gee’s social bubble grew as well as they got more involved in The Grad community. The familiar faces they saw weekly will be one of the many things they’ll miss.
“[I’ll miss] the people I met there over the years and getting to know those regulars,” Steve Gee said. There are many people that I probably won’t see again for quite some time.”
For now, the line dancing community has been brainstorming different ways to come together from Zoom line dancing sessions to constructing a whole new line-dancing facility.
“I’m excited to see how the community reestablishes itself in a new location,” Hess said. “I think it’ll be very interesting and exciting to see how they move forward with that.”
Editor’s Note: Steve Gee is in need of a kidney transplant. He is registered on the transplant list at Stanford Medical Center. More information can be found on their Facebook page Daddy Needs a Kidney Team Steve Gee.