THE TOP TEN SWING VENUES I MISS THE MOST
I was on Facebook and saw people reminiscing about the beloved Derby nightclub. I loved that place too. That got me thinking about some of the other great swing venues we’ve had in Southern California and the great memories I made at each of them. So, for all of you old-time swing dancers out there, here is my list of the top ten Los Angeles/Orange County swing venues that I miss the most and why. Tell me if you agree and if I missed one of your favorites.
1. The Derby
In its time, many Swing dancers had a love/hate relationship with The Derby. Detractors said there were too many beginners, the floor was sticky, it was too crowded, the management treated us bad, it was too hot, yada yada. Now, I think we can all agree we’re sorry it’s gone. Where else could you bring your non-swing friends and not have them be bored out of their minds after an hour? What other real nightclub had swing dancing and provided a huge dance floor, lessons, and live band every night? This place was actually cool and hip! Don’t get me wrong, I am fine with dancing in fellow Swing geeks in less-glamorous venues, but it was cool to also dance in such a historic “Hollywood” type of venue.
And, how many of us learned how to swing dance there? I still remember my first swing dance lessons with Kim and Dave and Eric and Sylvia (I won’t mention the Salsa instructor who is now in jail). How many friends did you first meet at the Derby? For these reasons, the Derby will always have a special place in my heart. I actually wanted to have my ashes spread there after I died, but I guess that won’t happen now..
2. Satin Ballroom
If you remember Satin Ballroom, you’re an old-timer, but you probably have some great memories of this place like I do. What other swing dance event in Southern California could draw 1000 people, all dressed to the nines and ready to dance to a great band (sometimes two!!) It was great because everyone would show up – beginners and experts alike! Alas, Satin Ballroom had to close due to the increased cost to rent the Culver City Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium, but it’s a shame. There have been a few big band Swing dance events since then, but for some reason, they haven’t been the same.
3. Paladino’s Lounge aka Kim and Dave’s Juke Joint
One “honorable mention” classy venue that used to have swing dancing was the Coconut Club at the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel. This was way way back. I remember seeing Cybil Shepard there. She would dance with anyone who asked, which I thought was cool.
Let me also mention one other venue that is not dead, but perhaps can be considered on life support: Third Street Swingers. At its peak, this would draw a huge number of dancers, but it has not had those numbers for a while. I’m going to try to drum up interest in this event in the coming months.
Before I sound too gloomy, let me talk about the resurrection of one of our old stand-bys, The Swing Pit (which would otherwise have been high on this list!) Yes, the Swing Pit is back and popular as ever, which goes to show that the dead can come back to life. And let’s hope that some of the venues above do!
What So. Cal. swing venues do you miss? Please leave a comment! – Brian