Swing Discussion Boards > Historical Swing Dance Places in LA Area

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by DanceMentor, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Now that I am in the LA area I thought it might be cool to checkout some of the sites. I assume Balboa Island for example has something with the dance the Balboa. What other interesting tidbits can you tell me about places I might want to check out?
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Most valuable thing to know is that most of them aren't there anymore!

    There is a plaque at the site of the Rendezvous Ballroom on Balboa Island.
    "Borrowed" from SurfGuitar web site.

    Balboa memorial.jpg

    See the Anyone Remember Rendezvous... thread for url to Loggins vids that mention places

    Most productive way to approach it would be to look up addresses and consult GoogleEarth to see if there is anything that looks like it could have once been a club or ballroom, if there is still a building there! I don't currently have a presentable list, especially with "final dispostion" information. Sonny Watson's Streetswing has lists of ballrooms, but does not acknowledge the western swing places. Tamara Stevens recent "Swing Dancing" has a short list of venues.
  3. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    As I seem to recall Steve , the Santa Monica Pier held one ,on occasion. I social danced there several times .
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Both the Venice Pier and Santa Monica Piers had country / western swing dances with thousands of people in attendance. Venice Pier started hosting "countty" in 42 or 42. A woman named Bobbie Bennett started "Corn Stuff" at "Palisade Ballroom on Santat Monica Pier."
    Spade Cooley leased "La Monica" (also called Western Palisades at the time) in 1946. In 48 Cooley began hosting Saturday night variety show Hoffman Hayride on Channel 5 KTLA-TV . The show became a mainstay of Southern California TV. and the TV show stayed there until 1953? (one reason Cooley's dances on Saturday night wre well attended - unlike most ballrooms) when it moved into a studio at the tv station.

    Cooley was competing against Lawrence Welk at the nearby Aragon Ballroom on Lick Pier. His venue was more popular that Welk's through the 1st half of the 50s.

    Venice Pier was deemed unsafe and demolished in 1946, and the Aragon burned down, a fairly common fate for these older buildings. The famous Palomar, where Benny Goodman had played in 1935 - deemed the beginning of the Swing Era, was also destroyed by fire.

    You don't find the "Corn Stuff" in books and essays on swing. The movie "Swing Shift," which was set in the time and place where were thousands of people dancing to what became know as Western Swing, focused instead on small blues places. It's clear, though, that the writers of that era, too - for the most part - misrepresented western swing.

    Have been working with a recounting of his WWII experiences by Robert F. Gallagher that mentions the popularity of country music in Southern California, and a trip to the famous Paladium Ballroom.
    "The noise was loud and the music was great, while the orchestra played all of the great songs of the day. Then the band would start into one of its swing numbers, and everyone dancing would go into his or her jitterbug act."
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    One more blurb about TV in Los Angeles in the late 40s early 50s. Very important to note that the was no direct link to the networks because of the distances invovlved.

    By 1949 there were seven stations operating in Los Angeles. Importantly, three of them had no affiliation with a national network: KTLA, KFI-TV (later KHJ-TV), and KLAC-TV. These independents found sufficient means to lease or create competitive shows.
    This was especially true of KTLA, which was owned by the television subsidiary of Paramount Pictures. By mid-1949 KTLA was nationally syndicating kinescopes of its own series, such as Time for Beany; Armchair Detective; Pantomime Quiz; and The Spade Cooley Show, a country and western musical variety hour featuring "your fiddlin' friend" Spade Cooley and his orchestra. As Table 4.4 suggests, before the opening of the coaxial link in late 1951, viewers in Southern California preferred local live programs, mostly sporting events and musical programs, over network films and kinescopes.

    Table 4.4 Telepulse Ratings, October 29—November 17, 1950 Los Angeles :
    1.Hopalong Cassidy* 2.The Alan Young Show (local and live, but CBS)

    3.The Movies (Sunday)* 4.UCLA-Oregon Football* 5.Harry Owens Royal Hawaiians*
    6.The Spade Cooley Show* 7.Rams-49ers pro football* 8.The Texaco Star Theater
    9.Ina Rae Hutton Orchestra* 10.The Lone Ranger * Non-network/local origination

    There's a book about KTLA that my local library is now thinking of buying.
  6. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Actually, the Rendezvous Ballroom was not on Balboa Island, but rather on Lido Isle near the Pavilion and next to the walkway to the pier. Follow Newport Blvd all the way down to where it turns into W. Balboa Blvd and on to the Pavilion and you will have just passed where it was. I have a PDF of a 1951 real estate promotional map of the area showing all the businesses, but I can't find it on-line anymore. I'll have to upload it to my site tonight and will post the URL here.
  7. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    DWise1, you are correct and incorrect; not on Balboa Island, but not on Lido Island either. It was on the Balboa Peninsula. The Pavilion is also on Balboa Peninsula. Lido Island is the first left turn (or it was the 1st when I was a kid) past PCH, same turn as the old Ralphs Market. Lido is where John Wayne kept his yacht the Wild Goose and Shirley Temple had a house. The Rendezvous Ballroom and the Pavilion were only a couple blocks from each other and according to a book I have on Newport history, the Rendezvous was built to compete with the Pavilion dance crowd.
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Is that marker in the right location?
    Would have gone there myself, but was too busy finding Spade Cooley's star on the walk of fame.

    Would be great to have lat long from gps !

    And I thought I just read that the crowds were so great that, rather than "compete" it was more like create an escape valve. Newport Historic Society web site?
  9. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    <And I thought I just read that the crowds were so great that, rather than "compete" it was more like create an escape valve. Newport Historic Society web site?>

    That makes more sense since the Pavilion was small in compairson. If you can tell me how you imbed pictures here I will upload the comentary I was reading. It also talked about a "dance ticket". It was 5 cents per dance at the Rendezvous, or a dollar for all you could dance.
  10. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    In message 7 I said Ralphs Market, it was actually Richards Lido Market; totally off topic I know but this marke was so far ahead of its time that in grade school we did several field trips there to look behind the scene at what made it work.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    you can embed the video into the post by clicking on the "media" key in the tool bar and paste the link. Then the video is within the post. JanTango

    I've been using the "upload file" button .
  12. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    I uploaded the PDF, but every time I try to link to it I get a 404 "page not found" error. Guess that Plan B will be to try to create a graphic of that part of the display.

    Where's what I see looking at that old map. The Rendezvous Ballroom was one block long, between Palm and Washington. There was one row of buildings between it and Balboa Blvd with an alley between it the those buildings. Its sea-ward side was bordered by a walk-way and further sea-ward was a parking lot. The sea-ward side of the ballroom was exactly in line with all the buildings to the east and west of it.

    The map does not mention Oceanfront, but rather just "alley" on the bay-ward side of the building and "walk" on the sea-ward side. MapQuest mentions Oceanfront and shows it running between the buildings and the beach exactly along the line marked "walk" on the 1951 map, but then at Palm it cuts sea-ward and goes around through the parking lot, which appears to have been greatly expanded since 1951, and then heads back bay-ward at Main and continues eastward along the same line as before. It has been several years since I've been there even though I live in the county, but I seem to recall that that "walk" between Palm and Main is a pedestrian-only walkway. However, on Google Maps on my phone, it's the "alley" that's labeled as Oceanfront and the 1951 map's "walk" is the Newport Balboa Bike Trail.

    In matching up the 1951 map with the satellite views on both MapQuest and Google Maps, the old site of the Rendezvous Ballroom is now occupied by a building of the same size which I think is apartments and the parking lot sea-ward of that is the old parking lot from 1951. I have not seen the historic marker, but I understand that it's in the parking lot. Where in the parking lot? Does it indicate that apartment building as being the site of the ballroom? Or does it seem to say that the parking lot is where the ballroom was. On the "Forgotten OC" clip, the guide was saying that it was in the present-day parking lot.
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I think it's great that you are working from an old map, which I consider to be a primary source. I look forward to seeing some sort of digital image of it.

    Maybe DanceMentor will visit the site and post gps info.
    Might have to acquire some gis skills one day!

    Too much of what is passed around as "dance history" is based on "here say" (as one web site put it) and stuff people seem to make up.
    I see Downbeat mentioned the Spade Cooley tv show as the first from a "dancery." Gonna have to get a copy of that - another primary source - or at least as close as we'll get.
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Ahhh.. The Pal. B.Room.. We ( A.M. ) held one of the largest number of A.M. studios, medal ball gatherings there in 1961. They booked Tito Puente !!. I guess Im one of few, who danced in both Palladiums (NYC ) .

    The L.A. Palladium, was also the last time I competed as A Prof .
  15. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    Let's see if this works:


    You can see location of the Rendezvous Ballroom in the lower left quadrant. The Balboa Pavilian is at the top, just right of center. Now for a closer and hopefully more legible view of the ballroom:


    This map was a poster from circa 1951. A real estate company made it as part of a promotion and gave it out to the local businesses. Then somebody found it, photographed it, and posted it as a PDF. I stumbled upon it about three years ago while tracking down Rendezvous Ballroom stories on-line. I think I found it through the Daily Pilot's site, but I couldn't locate it again.

    If you're familiar with the neighborhood, it's interesting to see what businesses are still there and what used to be there. That gift shop at Palm and Balboa is still there, as per Google Earth's street view and an old photo of the ballroom taken from that angle, though it's painted a different color now. On the Google images hit when I Google'd on "Rendezvous Ballroom" ([URL]http://www.google.com/search?q...wKC9oDwCQ&sqi=2&ved=0CDkQsAQ&biw=1404&bih=727[/url], it's the first photo at the top left-most corner.

    Share and enjoy!
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Looks like something the local historian that was in that interview should be aware of.
    Good sleuthing!
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Oh, and would love to know which years the Medal ball was 1 1/2 hours on TV. Laure' wrote that she moved to the Crenshaw studio in part because she would be coordinator of that show. I was "mid" 50s. I've seen 1 hour, and then, after a few years 4 hours! but haven't found the year(s) it was 1.5.
  18. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Yep, it did move to 3 plus hrs in around '58/'59, because of the huge number of schools attending ( at one point 32 ? ) .
    I worked in both the Wiltshire and Crenshaw studios but, when I arrived there ,she had gone totally independant ,and was no longer employed by A.M. We did however judge together on occasion, in later yrs, at independant comps .

    The last one I did in L.A . ,was Choreode by Ruth Silvey, Barbara Paul and Sheila Webber .( that was the 1961 event )
  19. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    Thought I would upload some historic pictures of the Rendezvous before and while it was burning. According to the write up it was located where DWise1's map shows. I looked at the pictures and Google Earth and although the buildings have been updated, I believe 2 of the buildings in the picture are still there. The picture of the fire would be from Ocean Blvd facing Washington.

    Tangotime, did you ever dance at the Rendezvous?

    Rendezvous Ballroom History.jpg
  20. flightco

    flightco Well-Known Member

    DWise, not able to get your link to work, am I missing a part of it or do you have any tips?

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