On Tuesday, May 14th, I decided to check out The Bungalow in Santa Monica featuring the incredible California Feetwarmers on Tuesday nights. I had heard this place was pretty happenin’ but never been there, so I went on the spur of the moment – a highly risky move with no dance partner!
Located on the grounds of the posh Fairmont Miramar Hotel on the corner of Wilshire and Ocean, The Bungalow is a hip but charming covered outdoor bar. There is a little West-Side snootiness, but there didn’t seem to be any kind of dress code on a Tuesday night. There was no cover charge.
The covered outdoor area with the band was nicely decorated with lanterns hanging from the trees. There were couches and table distributed about. The floor was patio decking (actually not bad to dance on), and there was some dance space in front of the band for perhaps four or five couples, tightly packed. Clientele was mostly 20-something West-siders.
The California Feetwarmers were scheduled to start at 9PM, and after a brief sound check they started at about 9:15. There were no other swing dancers to be seen, and I didn’t really expect to see any. But, any swing dancer knows it’s torture to listen to great live music and have no one to dance with. After about half an hour I coaxed a few dances from two beginners whom I had just taught basic East Coast Swing. Later in the night, however, some experienced Lindy Hoppers appeared and I got some really awesome dances in.
As you can imagine, the non-swing dancers there stared in awe at the Lindy, Charleston, Shag, and Balboa that was going on before them. Clearly, many of the young women there wanted to dance but mostly just managed to move a little with purse on shoulder and drink in hand. (Such a shame that partner dancing is not more widely taught to the masses – there is no lack of desire to learn it!)
The California Feetwarmers were awesome as usual. But the really cool thing was how much the non-dancer people there enjoyed them. I heard people asking when they were playing again, what kind of music it was, and so forth. The crowd loved them! There is mainstream demand for this type of music!
So, what began as a spur-of-the-moment scouting mission turned into a really fun night with some great dancing. The ambiance was wonderful. You won’t find many places to dance in L.A. that are more charming than this. But, I strongly recommend that you bring your own partner!!! If you do, you will be rewarded as people gaze in amazement at your skills!
The Bungalow is located at 101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA. The California Feetwarmers play there on Tuesday nights (check the Lindy Calendar though). – Brian