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The Dazzle and the Glide

Santa Cruz leads Monterey Bay into the next era of Big Band glam, and the future looks bedazzling

By Traci Hukill

AT WALLY'S SWING WORLD, gray heads bob alongside bleached boy-cuts and Average Joe 'dos--all that's visible of the moving sea of humanity when the Palookaville dance floor gets really packed. A group of teenagers is here in full Swing Kids­inspired regalia: white shirts and suspenders for the guys, dresses and sweaters for the girls. Style, language and point of view differ drastically from table to table, but that swing is very cool is one point upon which everybody agrees.

Places to learn and practice East Coast Swing and the more complex West Coast Swing abound in Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department (429-3663) offers swing classes, as does the Capitola Recreation­Community Activities Center (475-5935). Call for information on class dates and times. And Santa Cruz boasts its own Swing Club (425-4443), a group of aficionados that organizes dances and puts out a newsletter. Read on for a list of other clubs where you can cut a rug on a regular basis.

Mid-County Senior Center
829 Bay Ave., Capitola, 476-4711; second and fourth Saturdays, 8pm; $8/$7. On the fourth Saturday of each month, the Santa Cruz Swing Club hosts an all-ages dance to recorded music. The price of $8 per person (or 2 for $14) includes an hour-long lesson before dancing starts at 9pm. This month's Swing Dance happens not on a Saturday, though, but on New Year's Eve. There will be no lessons at the New Year's party, which will run from 9pm to 1am. The center also holds a soirée on the second Saturday of each month. The soirée celebrates all styles of ballroom dance and includes a lesson. All ages are welcome.

Moe's Alley
1535 Commercial Way, SC, 479-1854; Monday, 9pm; no cover. Dizzy Burnett's and Grover Coe's unique take on old swing standards invites swing lovers to take the floor for Martini Mondays at Moe's each week. Must be 21 or over.

Palomar Ballroom
Upstairs from El Palomar, 1344 Pacific Ave., SC, 426-1221; Wednesdays starting Jan. 25; $10/$5. When the Palomar Ballroom officially opens next month, owner Steven Hughes promises it will be the place for swing in Santa Cruz. The ballroom's painted ceiling, chandeliers and ornate stage all remain from the building's 1929 decor, and the ambiance is unbeatable. Palomar Ballroom will be ready to meet the public for First Night with an evening of dancing, demonstrations and instruction in several ballroom styles including swing. All ages are welcome.

Palookaville
133 Pacific Ave., SC, 454-0600; Friday, 4:30­6:30pm; $2. Without a doubt, Wally's Swing World draws the largest swing crowd in town. The seven-piece band blaring favorites from the '30s and '40s and Palookaville's Art Deco inclinations make this weekly gathering the hands-down favorite among swing fans of all ages. Unfortunately for some, Wally's Swing World just sang its all-ages swan song. Starting this week, Palookaville offers a full bar and a new 21-and-over policy.

Peachwood's Grill & Bar
Hwy 17 and Pasatiempo Dr., SC, 426-6333; Friday and Saturday, 8:30pm; no cover. The Frank Leal Quartet keeps this place jumping until 1am on the weekends. On Friday, Peachwood's is an after-hours destination for the Wally's Swing World crowd. The dance floor is smallish, but the music is so good people keep coming back anyway. Need to be 21 or over.

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From the December 19-25, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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Copyright © 1996 Metro Publishing, Inc.


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