Swing Discussion Boards > Does anyone remember the Rendezvous Ballroom?

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by flightco, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    Is there anyone here that danced at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, CA in the 50's or earlier? I am researching my family tree and in going through some boxes that were handed down to me I have found information that leads me to believe my Grandfather was the manager, stage manager or something there and I am trying to see if anyone remembers him. I have found nearly a hundred signed pictures of orchestras and different singers that played there, all autographed to my grandfather. His name is Eddie Ham. The Rendezvous, if I am not mistaken, is home to the Balboa version of the swing. My mom spoke of this often when I was young but, being young, I could not have cared less about her crazy old fashioned dances (now I am spending my retirement money trying to learn them, why do they waste youth on the young?)


  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe TangoTime?

    If you want some non personal info, there are some really good videos of a lecture Peter Loggins gave where he talks about the dancing at the Rendezvous. Peter wasn't there himself, but is one of the leading people on the history.
    Billboard from the 40s and 50s is searchable on line now, and I've been working it pretty hard. But the Rendezvous is just one of the many LA ballrooms of that era. I've even started charting who was playing what where and when.
    It would be great if you could make that stuff available on line.

    I see there's a Facebook page, Flicker site, etc, but most lack older stuff http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.445544105476539.101536.154437154587237&type=3

    Do, keep us informed, and if you want to find those P Loggins vids...
  3. bookish

    bookish Active Member

    The Balboa dance community is generally pretty interested in its history. I'm sure someone would enjoy talking to you and they might have more information or contacts. I'm not personally well connected there though, and I don't think they come on this forum. I can't post links but go to davidrehm.com and bobbykate.com as they are some of the more historically inclined as far as I know. I do not know them personally but have taken their classes.
  4. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    Looking at the pictures on the facebook page took me back to my teens in an instant. Thank you for the link. I would be very interested in the P Loggins vids if you have a link.

    Do you have any interest in the pictures I have? I could scan and upload whereever is appropriate. (don't know if dance-forums is the place or not). These are of the band publicity photos and are autographed. I know there were some well known bands at one time but I have reason to believe my step-father sold them (I say that because a lot of them where in a binder with prices and some pictures were missing.)

    I am glad to know the Rendezvous has some history I can learn more about. Why didn't I pay more attention to my mom...
  5. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much...
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Why do I even try to keep track of things when google is so powerful?

    Here is part one of Peter's lecture. You can follow the parts pretty easily.

    Once you upload pictures here (if you can! last time I checked I couldn't)
    I think they are available to download. They will certainly be available for viewing. If not I will encourage the tech people to work on that feature (the uploading for sure) .

    I'm very interested in the history of my boyhood town, a neighborhood that was torn down to make way for a steel mill expansion. This item in particular, from Stearns, Marshall and Jean (1968). Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance. caught my eye.

    A young, white middle-class man from suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania learned to dance jitterbug in 1939 by going to the "Hill City" section of that city to watch black dancers. They danced smoothly, without hopping and bouncing around the dance floor. "The hardest thing to learn is the pelvic motion. I suppose I always felt these motions are somehow obscene. You have to sway, forwards and backwards, with a controlled hip movement, while your shoulders stay level and your feet glide along the floor. Your right hand is held low on the girl's back, and your left hand down at your side, enclosing her hand."
    When he ventured out into "nearby mill towns, picking up partners on location," he found that there were white girls who were "mill-town...lower class" and could dance and move "in the authentic, flowing style". "They were poor and less educated than my high-school friends, but they could really dance. In fact, at that time it seemed that the lower class a girl was, the better dancer she was, too."

    I have two surviving aunts and haven't asked them much about the mixed ethnic nature of 1st ward in McKeesport. One day I'll probabaly regret it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2017
    Terpsichorean Clod likes this.
  7. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    I have gone through a couple of Peter's videos and there is more information there than I thought possible.

    I scanned one of the pictures but could not upload it. It said I had to have an account but obviously I am logged in or I couldn't be leaving this message

    I am going to scan several of them so if you would like some please let me know where you would like me to send.

    Thank you again for the lead (no pun intended).
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Have asked site tech folks if the photo section will be activated. Meanwhile, if you can't find anywhere else to post those pix, you can send them to me and I will put them on the Facebook page for the ballroom.
    Will send you a message with an email address.
  9. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Say, what?

    Well, it turns out the that flightco's grandfather had an autographed photo from Johnny Richards.

    Johnny richards_1.jpg
    Well, "San Antonio Rose" sure caught my eye. It was written by Bob Wills and recorded by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys in November of 1938 with a fiddle lead and a steel guitar solo. Famed jazz violinist Joe Venuti told Wills and others that he was getting requests for the song.
    Wills redid the song and added vocals. Bob WIlls and His Texas Playboys recorded it a second time in April 1940, and named this new version "New San Antonio Rose." It was an immediate hit and won Wills a gold record in 1940. Bing Crosby's version of the song was released January 1941 ended up selling > 1.5 million copies.
    Johnny Richards had a big band that played around LA in 1942 to good success. Not sure how long he kept that up.
    A Johnny Richards was granted a copyright for a song titled "Play Boy Shuffle" in 1942. Can't find any recodrings of it. Personally, I think it was THIS Johnny Richards.
    So, flightco's grandfather favorite song was a Bob Wills tune.

    Here's one more Bob Wills tune from the same recording session in 1940.
  10. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member


    These pictures have been in boxes for 40 or 50 years; nice to see them in a place where someone else can enjoy them.

  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Billy McDonald and the Royal Highlanders_1.jpg

    These guys, Billy McDonald and His Royal Highlanders, were one iteration of Billy McDonald's efforts in the early 40s in the Los Angeles area. One of the places they played was the Louisiana.

    McDonald was in a 1944 Soundie titled "Playmates." The Highlanders are suppposed to be in there, according to the press blurb, but I didn't see them. "Playmates" https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkHL89xyfgs

    AND HIS ROYAL HIGHLANDERS, dressed in Lord Fauntleroy suits, stars in Playmates. McDonald carries the vocals, with six girls in kid attire for eye appeal.​

    Another Soundie, also in 1944 - Minstrel Memories stars ​
    ORCHESTRA which plays a medley of Stephen Foster's best-known tunes, including Jeannie With the Light Broton Hair, Oh Susannah, Old Folks at Home .and others. There's a five-girl chorus ​
  12. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    The Rendezvous Ballroom has a long history from the 1920's to the 1960's.

    I was in high school when it burned down for the second and last time. I had never been there, but my older sisters had been. By that time, it had become the birth-place of surf music with Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. My middle sister met her husband when she passed up going to the Rendezvous Ballroom and instead went to a Tustin event where her future husband was playing the drums.

    There's a YouTube clip about "Forgotten OC" (
    ) about it, but that clip has an inaccuracy in it. They say that the parking lot was where the ballroom was. In reality, the current apartment building is where the block-long ballroom was.
  13. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 1942 Stan Kenton open at Rendezvous with new band members last Memorial Day... 50 miles from Hollywood... Hired to play the Palladium...Kenton's Palladium grosses will be right alongside Jimmy Dorsey's... ~ 3,000 to 3,600 people.

    Clara had a letter from her niece saying that she had been notified to evacuate the city if necessary.
    This was less than a month and there was a war on.

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