Scheduled for his eighth season on Dancing with the Stars this fall, Maksim Chmerkovskiy has helped bring the cha-cha back into collective consciousness, twirling starlets like Mel B and Erin Andrews to the finals.

Outside of the show, he’s busy as a creator and director of Dance Team USA, a nonprofit organization that promotes DanceSport competitive ballroom dancing, as well as choreographing and working on his own productions. But he’s focusing much of his energy on his Dance With Me social dance studios, with locations in New Jersey, Long Island and, as of this spring, Soho. “To open in Soho is a big deal,” he says of the elegant, chandeliered space and ace instructors. “We are really trying to get the whole experience at the next level of quality and service.”

He sees the popularity of Dancing and shows like Glee as proof of America’s resurgent fascination with “the Fred and Ginger stuff,” as he calls it. “Dancing is coming back really strong right now,” he says. “Before, guys weren’t even looking at dance.” These days, they’re signing up in record numbers—and finding they get fit in the process. “Forget dancing, per se,” he says when asked what steps are easiest for guys to learn. “How comfortable are you walking up to a girl, taking her hand and pulling her close?” Eighty percent of success may be showing up, but to Chmerkovskiy the other 20 percent is not stepping on her toes.

NEW YORK FAVORITES

Late-night meal: Cafeteria
Place for hanging out with friends: The Hotel on Rivington
Date spot: La Esquina
Sports teams: New York Giants and Jets; New Jersey Nets and Devils
Guilty pleasures: Shopping in Soho and crepes at Creperie NYC
Dance club: The Box or The Boom Boom Room

Like what you're reading? Get it delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now for our newsletters >>