Swing Discussion Boards > Historical Swing Dance Places in LA Area

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

  1. DWise1

    DWise1 Well-Known Member

    I've always found the editor here to be a bit weird with URLs.

    Simply to go Google and search on Rendezvous Ballroom. About 6 or 8 hits down the list is a "Google Images" link. The images on that page should link you to the page that the image was found on. Most in the beginning are for Rendezvous Ballroom, while others are from searches on rendezvous and on ballroom separately.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I kinda wondered about that, because she just sort of leaves off in her narrative in her book. She DOES have pictures with her and Rocky Mari dated March 1957 at the Medal Ball.
    That was '58 when you got to LA?
  3. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Yep... Funny, Rocky was known primarily as a mambo dancer and club organiser(His signature move, was lifting his leg in a Back spot turn, whilst the lady held it ) .
  4. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Thanks for all the information. I probably should go for a drive soon, and maybe I can take some pics of what it looks like now.
  5. Raihan kabir

    Raihan kabir New Member

    When Dean arrived in California the Savoy style of Swing was virtually unknown
  6. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member


    Must have been a while ago?
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Seems like a good place to drop this.

  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I've been digging into the history of the facility that housed at different times: La Monica, a roller rink, Pacific Palisades, Western Palisades, and the Santa Monica Ballroom, and came across this short, posted by twobarbreak aka Peter Loggins. He wrote that it shows "a more realistic side to social dancing in the swing era."

  9. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Great pic.. Bings brother
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Lauré Haile included "The Santa Monica Ballroom" as one of the places that had good swing dancers. As I remembered it, that facility was home to Spade Cooley for a number of years. So I checked my sources. Yes, Cooley owned the place from 1947 through 1954 and was the main attraction. Western groups were booked in 1946. As a functioning ballroom you have to go back to 1938 and earlier.
    During the in between years, the facility did not function as a ballroom.
    Big band leader Al Donahue moved into the place after Cooley left, believing that big bands were going to make a come back. That summer, 1954, he advertised a Smooth Dance Contest Saturday Nites. After that summer the New Santa Monica Ballroom was no longer advertised and received no further coverage.
    In 1955 RCA signed Elvis Presley.
    The one book I found written specifically about the pier highlights the importance of Western Swing.

    Still, I wonder which of those eras Lauré had in mind when she wrote about the good swing dancers.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I'm now looking for information on the 5 4 Ballroom, and the Savoy on Central Avenue.
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Seems like most ballrooms in LA did NOT close any time soon after the war.

    One ballroom that DID close was on "the old Venice Pier." Here is one account of WHY it closed.

    Decree Dooms Venice Pier
    Co. Loses Its Fight for Site Venice, Calif. April 20, 1946
    “structure declared unsafe and closed to the public after a prolonged political struggle”
    There's something in there about an entrance to the proposed "Coast Freeway, " the owners having spent $68,000 on improvements, bad weather impacting attendance...
    At 15 minutes into the 1936 film "Private Number," (currently several postings of the film on YouTube) you can see what the inside of the place looked like. Looks the same as in a 1944 photo when thousands showed up for country western bands.

    Hollywood Canteen closed after the war, but that makes sense since it was volunteer staffed and really a child of the war effort.

    Although the Aragon looked like an old barn when Lawrence Welk played there in 1946, "in those postwar years it was attracting huge crowds," as was Casino Gardens "down the street." By 1951 things looked grim for Aragon, until Welk started playing there again, and things picked up dramatically.

    The Palladium stayed open, and Jerry Gray's (Glenn Miller styled) orchestra brought over 9,000 paid customers to the ballroom the first 3 night of a 1955 engagement. Welk moved in there in 1961.

    Western musiker Spade Cooley took out a 10 year lease on the Santa Monica Ballroom in 1947, was still playing there in 1954, and reportedly had a total of 192,000 people show up on the Saturdays of 1953.

    Benny Strong had 1,600 folks at the Trianon in 1953, so that place was still going.

    Even the Pasadena Civic Center "for a few short years after World War II maintained its large crowds on Friday and Saturday nights."

    Tommy Dorsey kept Casino Gardens open until 1953 with ten months of six days a week openings until 1949. It stayed open after that.

    I guess this is one reason I keep researching this stuff.
    It seems like there may be "some" inaccuracies in the pictures that have been painted for us about West Coast Swing, etc.
  13. liiam16

    liiam16 New Member

    Guys I am moving to Houston so anyone knows some good places i should check out ?

    Thanks in advance !
  14. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    It might be good to start a new thread with the title that says something like places to dance in Houston.
    liiam16 likes this.
  15. liiam16

    liiam16 New Member

    sure thanks

Share This Page