Monday, March 29, 2004
Where To Go Dancing in Los Angeles/Orange County!
Updated May 18, 2008
We encourage social dancing as both a great way to learn as well as a way to meet a lot of folks. Here are the top places to go out dancing in Los Angeles County and Orange County.
First, my top venue picks:
1. LindyGroove: lots of dancers, very friendly, good music, good lessons, all ages. Known worldside as the place to hit when you come to visit Los Angeles and Orange County.
2. Paladino's: Very social, very welcome, and lots of advanced dancers. Somehow the atmosphere here rarely feels cliquey or unwelcome. A bit far though as Reseda/Tarzana is about 30 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
3. Atomic Ballroom: I love Friday nights at Atomic Ballroom. I also love Wednesday nights at Strutter's Ball so you'll find info for both at the same website. These are some of the best dance venues in Orange County.
4. Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association @ PBDA: Run by Erin and Tammy Stevens. Erin, with Steven Mitchell, is often credited for bringing Frankie Manning "out of retirement". They always have above average to great live music and a very friendly atmosphere.
5. Third Saturday Swing: Because it's our venue and we love to party. Come out and party with us!
Here is a list of most places to go dancing and a my review of them:
Monday nights at Memories has been coming on strong with DJ Jose in the booth. Not to mention it has a pretty good location as well and there is not a lot of competition on Monday nights. A lot of the latest crop of dancers head here so definitely check out this venue.
Pluses: Pretty welcome atmosphere by all the dancers. They're getting a strong turnout every Monday of 100+ dancers. Definitely go check it out.
Alpine Village (Torrance)
We've been there a few times, but not for at least a few years now. I got a phone call from one of the promoters letting me know they're still there and going strong. I am pretty sure they have a live band every Monday night free of charge (with dinner). If things are the same as a few years back, most of the patrons are older couples and seniors. Also, the floor is a bit small. The band that played was traditional swing but about 20bpm slower than what it was originally recorded at (e.g. a 170bpm "Sing Sing Sing).
Pluses: Free live music is always good. The food is tasty. And atmosphere is welcoming.
Overall: We haven't been there in a few years so things may be different than what I've written here. Either way if you find yourself itching to dance on Monday night go check it out (and let me know how it is!). Not too far from either Los Angeles or Orange County.
David and Kim's Juke Joint (Reseda)
David and Kim's Juke Joint runs the last Tuesday of every month except for June, July, and August when it runs every Tuesday night. Held here:
6101 Reseda Blvd,
Pluses: Good variety of uptempo music with David DJ'ing. Lots of old school dancers make it out here which makes it a fun atmosphere. The floor is pretty nice. And David and Kim do a tremendous job providing a welcome atmosphere for everyone. Door prizes! And very open space from the dance floor to the bar.
Overall: Highly Recommended! Great friendly relaxed atmosphere. The bar area is separated from the dance floor so you can go there to chat without having to yell. Definitely recommended! Personally for some reason whenever I go I'm not in much of a dancing mood and am more in the mood to talk and socialize with other dancers (which is a good thing for me).
Dance at Joe's (Burbank)
Joe's in Burbank holds quite a few "special events" with great bands. They also do a weekly thing as well with DJ'd or live music. Free parking and supposedly a large dance floor. We haven't been yet.
Joe's Great American Bar & Grill
4311 W. Magnolia Blvd
Rusty's rhythm Club (Manhattan Beach)
She has a strong local (West Los Angeles) following of beginning and intermediate students and that following shows up at her club quite regularly.
Pluses: Good Live Music and DJ'ing, not expensive, not crowded, friendly atmosphere
Overall: Recommended especially for newer dancers. Non-intimidating welcome place for beginning/intermediate dancers.
Strutter's Ball (Irvine)
Run by Shesha and Nikki Marvin, this is a very active venue and along with LindyGroove what I'd say is the best venue to go to in Southern California. The few times I've been there it's been quite crowded and lively.
Pluses: Lively atmosphere, great dancers, great music!
Overall: Highly Recommended! The atmosphere itself is lively like the "good ol' days" at the Derby. Definitely fun. If you are beginning or intermediate, don't be shy about asking others to dance.
In the past it built its reputation on slower, "groovier" music. As "LindyGroove" dancers have evolved, so has the music played at this venue to include a wide variety of genres (so don't let the "Groove" in LindyGroove fool you). This is one of our favorite places to go. LindyGroove has different DJ's every week, both local and out-of-the-area, so you can get a fantastic variety of music to dance to every week.
Pluses: Attended by a wide level of dancers, any dancer should feel welcome coming here alone or with a group . Fantastic lessons (both beginning and intermediate)
Overall: Highly Recommended! Lance and friends have done a great job on this venue. There are tons of people to dance with here and we usually recommend this as one of two places to go for just about everyone, especially those out of town visiting Los Angeles or Orange County. Even on the nights where it feels more cliquey, there are hundreds of dancers who come every Thursday and it's very easy to fill up your dance card.
Do Something Blue (San Marino, CA)
Once a month Blues dance (usually last Friday of the month) in the San Gabriel Valley area run by Tracy James. Blues dancing is a great way to learn body control and body movement. Personally Sheri and I do find slow blues music as inspiring as traditional swing or vocal jazz. We do respect the dance and encourage you to check it out to see if it's for you.
Pluses: Reviews coming ...
Overall: Tracy is great as a person and dancer so if she is running a venue, you know it will be of great quality. Check out their site for Blues workshops as well!
Fridays at Memories unfortunately does not have the same following as Monday nights at Memories. Still, as far as Fridays go it is a place to go dancing and you never know who will show up. Definitely worth checking out if you're interested in Friday dancing.
Pluses: Pretty welcome atmosphere by all the dancers. If you're looking for a place to go on Friday's, check this one out. On some Fridays they also have live music so check their calendars.
Overall: Recommended if you want to dance on a Friday night. I'm usually spent after LindyGroove and rest on Fridays (or travel out of town). But if I go anywhere Friday, it'd be here.
Atomic Ballroom (Irvine)
This is run by Jerry Jordan (formerly of RetroGlide) and Katie Salles. The studio is owned by them so they have a lot of control over the venue (including when it closes) . Sheri and I have gone quite a few times and have enjoyed ourselves.
Pluses: It's a nice atmosphere, nice floor. Crowd is quite friendly.
Overall: Recommended to check it out. Small but welcoming for just about any level of dancer aimed more towards the beginning/intermediate. It's a bit hard to find so make sure to have your directions handy. And get the directions from the website, not Mapquest.
Ben and Sheri's TSS Dance (Pasadena)
Third Saturday Swing (TSS) Dance - every third Saturday of the month in Pasadena at the Dance Family Studio. Hosted by yours truly!
Dance Family Studio
1795 E Colorado (off of Allen)
Pluses: It's awesome!
Overall: If you know us, then you'll know what this dance will be like. It will be a reflection of our personalities and the music we like. Come early for free lessons, free snacks. We'll have door prizes too and a variety of music to suit all your dancing needs (from groovy stuff to classic stuff).
Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association (Pasadena)
One of the longest-running regular events, the Pasadena Ballroom epitomizes the "Church Social" type atmosphere. This is probably one of the most friendly/social/non-intimidating atmospheres around. The PBDA staff go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome.
Pluses: Good price for live music, very welcome and non-intimidating atmosphere from all level of dancers. Easy to go by yourself.
Overall: Recommended. For the beginner/intermediate it's very welcoming. Attended by a huge level of dancers. And free punch and snacks. For the advanced, smaller number of advanced dancers go considering the overall attendance but those that go are very friendly.
If you want to pay the gate ($45? $50) then this is a great place to go. Live band in Carnation Plaza (think giant big Gazebo) and you can take a break from dancing to go on the rides, plus you're at the "Happiest Place On Earth" and you have one heck of a night of dancing. I have only been a few times and with a group of friends, but it seems that it is pretty regularly well attended - many dancers have annual Disney passes and so this is often well attended.
Pluses: Great live music, and you get "ooooh'd" and "aahhh'd" by the non-dancing Disney public! Plus, it's Disneyland!
Overall: Recommended to be experienced at least once. And if you're a local, yes, this is one reason why many of the dancers get a season pass to Disney is to go hang out and dance on Saturday nights. I was looking for an official link and couldn't find one. Here is the link to the calendar of events for Disneyland. Choose which day you are going to see what band is playing that night
Third Street Swingers (Santa Monica)
Outdoors on the 3rd Street Promenade marketplace every other Sunday, many of the regular dancers attend. It's a great way to also introduce non-swing friends to swing. It's a fun place to go to get a few dances, get some shopping, and get some beach air.
Pluses: Great atmosphere (Beach, 3rd Street, Outdoors) and exposure of swing to non-swing people. And the outdoors gives it a more welcome feel
Overall: Recommended! Just to be swing dancing outdoors near the beach is the best motivation of all. Beware of concrete and inclines.
The Derby(Los Angeles)
The Derby is under a great stage of renweal as attendance has been picking up as late. This venue was a sparkplug of the swing dance community through the 1990's with swing dancing every night. Though it has dwindled to a once-a-week swing venue, it has survived a few years of drought and has become more regularly attended by some of the newer swing dancers to the community. And many of the "old-school" swing dancers will still show up on a Sunday to swing the night away to some good live music. On the night of a good band you will definitely get a very good turnout. Definitely worth checking out - especially if you're itching to dance Sunday night it is the only real game in town.
Update: The Derby has been under new ownership for some time and it is back to more like it's old days. The future schedule is still a bit unclear.
Pluses: Historic feel, good "club" atmosphere, live music, and alcohol. On the night a good band plays (or on a holiday weekend) it should be really crowded. These days the attendance is picking up and it looks pretty healthy again.
Overall: Recommended. Highly encouraged on nights when good bands are playing!
That's it for now!
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