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J. C. Wade Dance Studio

J. C. Wade opened his first dance studio in 1933, located at 324 Gold Street in Akron, Ohio. He taught ballet and tap dancing at this location. Once the success of this location began to grow, he moved his dance business to a larger studio in 1935, located at 33 S. Howard Street in Akron.

A talented dancer, J. C. Wade was discovered in 1925 after he won a competition for the Charleston dance. The Olsen and Johnson Theatre Troupe was visiting Akron and requested Wade to audition for them. The troupe was wowed by Wade’s talent and asked him to join them. He was a tap dancer for the troupe and performed several shows in New York City in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He returned to Akron in 1933 to open his first dance studio after ending his contract with Olsen and Johnson. Wade mainly taught ballet and tap to his students, who were Black and White. He became the first Black dance teacher and dance studio owner in Akron.

The J.C. Wade Dance Studio was owned by J.C. Wade and co-owned by Charles Fitzhugh. Many of Wade’s students found fame after learning the craft under his direction. Such stars include Alvin Leslie, Dora Mae Hixson, Billie Parsons, Lorraine Baker, and Billy Carmichael. 

While running his studio, Wade was majorly involved with businesses and events around Howard Street, especially as Fitzhugh owned the Cosmopolitan Club and co-owned the J.C. Wade Dance Studio. He frequented nightclubs such as the Cosmopolitan Club, theaters, and charity shows, though most are unknown at this point. He produced the J.C. Wade Night Club Review, which was sponsored by the Goodyear Colored Club. His reviews were held at the Goodyear Theatre, which was located at 920 South High Street, and often known for its spelling as the “J.C. Wade Revues.” Wade also hosted annual dance recitals that showcased his students’ talent.

Wade’s first annual dance recital was held on June 21, 1935 at Goodyear Theater. General Admission was 27 cents. Due to the recital’s success, he held one every year over the next several years. Wade and his students also performed in several benefit shows, most notably in the Annual Goodyear Charity Carnival. The charity was first held in 1930 and raised funds to benefit needy families in the Goodyear community.

Wade’s success as an exceptional dancer also earned him the nickname “Happy Feet.” He would happily perform alongside his students in some segments of the revues (recitals). Patrons hailed his revues as the most outstanding dance performances and looked forward to attending them.


  • Akron Negro Directory, 1940.
  • “Charles Fitzhugh, Former Entertainer.” Akron Beacon Journal. January 2, 1980. Page 10.
  • “First Annual Dance Recital. J.C. Wade Dance Studio.” Akron Beacon Journal. June 20, 1935. Page 26.
  • “Goodyear Colored Club Plan Revue.” Akron Beacon Journal. December 11, 1934. Page 31.
  • “J.C. Wade.” Akron Beacon Journal. December 23, 1938. Page 17.
  • McClain, Shirla Robinson. “The Contribution of Blacks in Akron, 1825-1975.” Ph.D. diss., University of Akron 1975. pp. 187-188, 227-229.
  • “Versatile Wade Dancers in Goodyear Hall Revue.” Call & Post. June 21, 1941.
  • Wilson-Gossett Funeral Home, “Akron Negro Directory,” William Gossett Funeral Home.
33 S Howard St, Akron, OH

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