This Week's News & Commentary
October 22, 2019
Many of Marin dancers remember Amaeya. She has moved to Florida. She reports, “There is a dance every Friday night at a huge Senior Center and one another night at a YMCA ($6, pot luck). People bring hot dishes as well as sweets and it varies a great deal. You know you're not in California when it always starts with a pledge of allegiance to the flag and singing ‘God Bless America.’ One guy I danced with referred to California as the land of earthquakes and ‘home of the die-hard liberals’; in spite of that, Southern hospitality prevails. There are a few good dancers.”
Amaeya also mentions SHOES, “This is a resource people in the dance community might want to know about, especially the women, if they don't already. At danceshoesonline.com you can pick the style, color size and heel height of the shoes you want. They are made to order. The woman who showed me hers had been wearing them a lot for three years and they still looked good. They have men's shoes and a few clothes as well.”
By-the-bye, another source of shoes, one of Chris’ favorites, Shoes of Prey, folded last May. It too, allowed women to pick the design and style of shoes.
Last Tuesday’s dance at the Mill Valley Community Center drew a smaller than usual crowd, but the floor was still substantially filled with couples dancing Rumbas, Foxtrots, Swing, etcetera to the music of the Starduster Orchestra.
Tonight, at the Margaret Todd Center in Novato, People of Note play a similar song list. They don’t draw the crowd Starduster does, resulting in more space to dance. I suggest you bring a dance partner since talented single dancers are scarce.
October 15, 2019
You may have noticed no postiings of Wayne’s Window the last few weeks. It’s because we were driving around Portugal and Spain - in a roundabout way. Fado is the traditional Portuguese music – think a bluesy-Country Western song that invites Argentine Tango (O Faia Restaurant in Lisbon is recommend highly for dinner & show). Chris and I danced a spontaneous Rumba in the early evening shadow of a medieval cathedral in Salamanca. That’s it – music and dance had little room on our itinerary.
A big THANKS goes out to Karen for keeping this website up-to-date.
Monroe Hall reports the parking lot work is over and available for cars again.
Allegro is up and running at the new location on the El Cerrito and Richmond border. On your first visit, give yourself some extra time to find the place and entrance.
A flash in the pan: West Coast Swing at Neck of the Woods (S.F.) on Tuesdays has been replaced by Karaoke.
Santa Rosa Moose is changing its calendar. Some Friday night dances have been dropped in favor of Karaoke and bingo. Line Dancing classes are available every Wednesday at 6:30pm for $5. The first Sunday Jazz Dance continues.
Jon’s Dance Report: The Lighthouse was lit up by the SwingSet band last Saturday. Their music was smack dab perfect for ballroom dancers: shorter arrangements, strict rhythm, moderate volume (we could actually converse !). The dozen or so ballroom dancers shared the floor with a half-dozen Swing Nuts who graciously joined in with the ballroom tempos despite their desire for faster rhythms. Band breaks were filled with CD music.
“Danger, Will Robinson!” Knapsacks on floor. It seems acceptable in clubs and bars for patrons to drop the knapsack on the floor for others to trip upon in dim light – you’ve been warned!
I’ve found more Halloween Parties (USS Hornet gets my vote); most are on the 26th. Need a costume? Please take your business to D’Lynn’s or Belrose in San Rafael (to avoid the big box stores) for personalized service. D’Lynn’s also has an extensive array of professional makeup and props.
Tonight we are dancing at the Mill Valley Community Center and hope to meet you there.
September 17, 2019
To a few people I gave a teaser about a shoe website (aka girl porn) – more details next month, but here is the website:
Halloween rentals: As a crusader for the “Mom & Pop” or “Brick and Mortar” stores, may I urge you to consider Marin’s D’Lynne’s and Belrose Theater, both in San Rafael, for your Halloween rentals. D’Lynne’s also has a full complement of professional makeup and accessories.
While on the subject of Halloween, I feel as though I failed you in finding Halloween parties for you. There are just a few parties listed in “To Watch For” (website tab). If you know of any Halloween dances, please forward them to me and I will post them in the next Wayne’s Window.
The Ballroom (Rohnert Park): It’s not dead yet! Friday, we dropped in for the second-from-last dance party. Terry gave an esoteric beginners’ lesson that even the intermediates appreciated. The final party is free on Saturday the 21st “Goodbye and Celebration Party.” After, the instructors will scatter out among studios in the North Bay giving private lessons. One studio getting a lot of mention is the one at the ice rink in Santa Rosa shared by California Ballroom.
Mountain Magic Dance Convention (http://www.michelledance.com/mmm.html) features West Coast Swing, Hustle, Nightclub Two-Step and Country Two-Step dance at Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa (formerly Caesar’s) in South Lake Tahoe October 31-November 3. I hear a few of you are planning to attend.
Thursday, I dropped in at POST Wellness in Petaluma where Austin & Hannah taught beginner and intermediate West Coast Swing followed by 3 hours of dance practice. Here is a video of a Jack and Jill competition at POST Wellness. It shows the size and layout. The studio is nothing fancy, but it is large enough to easily hold two lessons simultaneously (note the large white curtains tied off at the wall in the video). The floor seems to be a synthetic wood. First-time students get a discount. Lots of free parking is available. The first class starts at 7:15pm, so the northbound traffic was not too bad.
Last Wednesday welcomed back the 16-piece Ray Simpson Band at the Corte Madera Community Center. That night, dancers slowly filtered in until around 9pm the dance floor resembled full. As with previous dances, there was a higher male ratio to female dancers. Admission is free, though a tip jar is passed among the crowd; parking is free, as are the light snacks. Tablecloths and pitchers of water on each table offer a nice touch. If you haven’t been to Corte Madera I suggest you put it on your calendar for the second Wednesday of every month.
September 10, 2019
Big Band returns to Marin. All have roughly 16 musicians plus a singer, usually.
- On second Wednesdays, the Ray Simpson Band plays at the Corte Madera Community Center at 8pm.
- The third Tuesday of every month, the Starduster Orchestra plays at the Mill Valley Community Center, start time at 8pm.
- The fourth Tuesday, People of Note play at the Margaret Todd Center, with a start time of 7:30pm.
Until last week, I’ve never been to Local Edition, a hip below-street-level bar in San Francisco. Newspapers are the theme, what being next door to the Hearst Building on Market at 3rd. The speakeasy-esque entrance is easy to miss, but once located we wound downstairs into an array of journalistic memorabilia from days gone by.
The Hot Sardines on a North America tour packed this “gin mill” with jazz and pop music – many sung in French. Luckily, we found the last two seats in the house, unable to see the band, but found space to dance (EC & WC Swing, and Rumba – too tight for Quickstep & Peabody) in the rear of the “joint.” The floor was 10” wood planks. The crowd crowded the stage 4 or 5 deep. I caught a glimpse of accomplished dancers (4 or 5 couples) claiming space near the stage.
Parking was close by at the Hearst Garage. I give both Local Edition and the band 2-thumbs up. There is a “but” … $20 cover, plus 2 adult beverages, parking and toll, we spent close to a C-Note. BTW: Local Edition offers no food or snacks. If you want something to eat, order a martini to get the olive!
Remember, Allegro has moved to 12012 San Pablo Ave., Richmond as of NOW. Many classes that week are FREE the week of Sept. 23. The Grand Opening and 25th Anniversary gala is Sept 28. Visit the website for full details:
Bad news for some of you who get my email edition, Wayne’s Window is being diverted to “Junk” or “Spam” folders. Check and see. If so, you have to change your settings – it is a pain in the … neck.
Friday was a delightful evening at Blackhawk Country Club in Danville. The evening started with a Peabody lesson followed by a tasty steak & shrimp dinner and finished with dancing and music of Delish. The band played only danceable music and announced of what type of dance was next. All of this for only $47 each! What else could one ask for? Well, how about a shorter drive time from Marin. On a Friday night, traffic congestion ate up an hour and a half of our time from San Rafael. But, we could have had it worse - our friends from San Anselmo spent two hours of windshield time. Drive time back to Marin was only 50 minutes. My advice to those in the East Bay is to keep on the lookout for future dances at Blackhawk but for those in the North Bay, decide is the drive is worth it.
Reports of the Alpha Rhythm Kings playing at Sausalito Seahorse are all positive. The band provided three hours of swing music for only $10. Strangely enough, the brick floor is danceable, as evidenced by it being continually packed.
We had looked forward to George’s Nightclub in San Rafael Sunday to hear Donna sing pop and jazz backed up by a talented trio. But George’s filled what little dance space there was with tables, which is too bad because Donna sang excellent pieces begging for Quickstep, Foxtrot, Swing, etc. Worse than the lack of dance floor was the disjointed service. Unless George’s gets a major overhaul, we have no reason to go back.
The much-anticipated opening of Allegro happens Monday, September 23rd, with free lessons sprinkled about the week. On Saturday the 28th, Allegro’s Grand Opening & 25th Anniversary party starts at 7:30pm. Go here for more info.
I’ve felt like I was blindly directing you to the Vallejo Moose Lodge on Monday nights without my personally visiting. Traffic from Marin had always kept me away. With Labor Day, I had no excuse. We skipped the adult beverages and $6 hamburger/hot dog and got down to the serious business of dance. Boogie Aces definitely have a Country twang, but all was danceable for ballroom and nightclub – lots of EC Swing and Nightclub 2-Step pieces, plus a Foxtrot, Cha Cha, slow Waltz and Polka were played. The crowd was of the generation before me, but cordial with a capital “C.” The oak dance floor is huge. I’d go back. My partner enjoyed it all, but desired a younger crowd.
August 27, 2019
George’s Nightclub in San Rafael has dropped the Sunday “Mexican Banda” series. According to its calendar, the choice is either Mexican DJ or women in jazz. The Mexican billings are out of my comfort zone (“club” atmosphere), but the jazz series looks promising – the next one is this coming Sunday the 1st with Donna D + 3. I like that she starts at an early hour (5pm). Best news: it’s free (but probably a 2-drink minimum). Street parking is free on Sundays.
The report I received was the B Street Ballroom (San Rafael) drew a crowd of new faces. No problem this month with temperature – the A/C was on.
Watching the sun set by the shore, classic and custom cars, 1960s rock ‘n’ roll, good eats, and adult beverages – Nick’s Rockaway in Pacifica is offering all this starting at 5:30pm Thursdays.
Do you have a report? Send it to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week I've posted a list of 200+ dances covering the next 14 days, from Yountville to Pacifica and Oakland to Santa Rosa. Corrections, suggestions, and comments are always welcome.
Tango: here is a link to Tango terminology:
Good news, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge repairs are done. All 31 expansion joints have been replaced on the upper deck. The lower deck joints are another story. However, for now, our evening travel time westbound will improve.
Bad news, The Ballroom in Rohnert Park is closing. From Director John Ross:
“The Ballroom is closing on October 9th.
The next dance party is on Friday Sept 6th. Elizabeth will be hosting and will teach Foxtrot at 7:45 with general dancing at 8:30.
(there may be a dance Sept. 13th. I'll let you know when I hear. - ed.)
Our final social night will be a FREE event (“The Ballroom Completion and Goodbye Party”) Saturday September 21 7:00 until ?????? This is a free event for people to share about their experience at The Ballroom and for me to complete and to dance a lot.
Thank you very much,
August 13, 2019
Please find my "Venues" list of dances in the North Bay and beyond. Any input is welcome.
Friday night found me at Alma del Tango in San Anselmo where Eduardo gave an Argentine Tango class. He is popular, filling much of the room to capacity with tangueros. Being a beginner, I was apprehensive to take the class but found his lesson acceptable to the many levels of talent. I liked how he’d teach simultaneously variations of a step, subtly Beginner 2, 3, or Intermediate level. I stuck around only briefly for the following Practicá because I wanted to investigate one more place before the night was over.
Afterward, with some effort, I found the Arthur Murray Studio in San Rafael – it has a small parking lot hidden behind and beside Bananas at Large on Second Street. I dropped in to visually check it out and was enthusiastically welcomed to join their 9 o’clock practice session. The upscale ballroom décor is magnificent with a huge dance floor and adjacent is a smaller studio. That night, four instructors worked with about 20 students. The energy at the studio was high but seemed forced. While watching the group lessons, I noticed that after performing the simplest of routines/steps, the students were encouraged to give each other high fives or applause. It is my understanding that the practice session is for students and NOT intended for repeat drop-ins who don’t enroll.
Jasmine Worrell Dance celebrated its third anniversary with a bang. After the tasty Forrest Fire BBQ dinner, Stephanie Teel Band brought everyone on the dance floor Swinging. It was fully packed – random bumps and kicks resulted from those who have not perfected floor crafting. The Knights of Columbus Hall in San Anselmo offers a mid-sized wood floor, raised stage, and free street parking. It also does double-duty for classes and Milongas by Alma del Tango.
Reminder, no dances occur in August at Mill Valley Community Center, Corte Madera Community Center, or Margaret Todd Center. They all reopen for live music dances in September. Also on the closure list are Friday and Saturdays at Monroe Hall due to construction, BUT the Sunday dances continue with reduced space for parking in the lot – free street parking can be found.
August 6, 2019
Please let me know if I’ve overlooked something– I’m sure others would want to know too.
Aside from lessons, I didn’t get out much last week. But we did get out Friday, going north to The Ballroom in Rohnert Park. For those who’ve not been there, it is not unlike many dance studios, with a good floor, two dance floors, and friendly staff. Elizabeth taught an intermediate American Rumba lesson, while Terry took the beginners to the other room. We were pleased with the introduction of swivels (similar to a Tango ocho) – new to Chris and me. Afterward a dance party/practice lasted for two hours (including cookies and brownies). The crowd size was just right for the floor and the talent ranged the full spectrum. These parties are held twice a month.
Presidio Yacht Club has become lax in filling out the calendar. I discovered after-the-fact that Doc Kraft played there recently. For those who enjoy the band and setting, then it was just right. For those who don’t like LOUD music, tightly filled dance floor with freestylers, then it was not your venue.
July 30, 2019
Welcome to another edition of Wayne’s Window. Each week over 100 venues are found in the North Bay and beyond for your dancing pleasure.
I've sent out an email with the list in Microsoft Word format and as a PDF per Mike’s suggestion. My only concern with multiple attachments is Wayne’s Window will be directed into a Junk or Bulk folder. MS Word is not necessary. Libre Office (https://www.libreoffice.org/) is a FREE alternative, available for PCs, Linux, and Macs.
Staying geeky a bit more, did you know about the Search function/command? Imagine you wanted a list of all the dances at specific venue. MS Word, Libre Office, and PDFs can be searched with the Ctrl+F (Mac: Cmd+F) keystroke. This sometimes also works on the Internet – give it a try.
Today I received an email stating Fenix in San Rafael closes Aug. 2 because of the sale of the building, thus loss of lease. It’s a shame, they were signing some great music … and the food was good too! They hope to relocate elsewhere.
Chris and I were in New Orleans last week. The music is wonderful – the (partner) dancing is despicable. We do recommend NOLA for listening to jazz, fine and casual food, excellent service, and the WWII Museum.
Frenchman Street in NOLA offers an abundance of jazz clubs, much like what Bourbon Street must have been like 60 or 70 years ago. We dropped in at the 30°/90° for a local band. Chris and I hid in back and danced a West Coast Swing. This impromptu dance was noticed by the band and taken as a message of our appreciation.
July 22, 2019
By the third week of the month many venues still don’t list their next month’s events. Top of the Mark, Presidio Yacht Club, Le Colonial, and others – Yes, I’m talking to you! It is frustrating that I can’t give 100% of Wayne’s Window potential.
Regardless, "Venues" offers over 100 weekly dances (some include lessons) of one hour or more, in the North Bay and beyond. Please click/tap and review. In addition, if you find something out of whack or omitted, please drop me a line (see "Contact")
Good news! Remember my recently lamenting that my website host was down for two days? Whatever they did, they fixed an unknown (to me) problem. It seems that many couldn’t see everything (such as graphics) offered. A few have praised the “new” site’s appearance (it was there all along).
Now the bad news: Reports from readers say Wayne’s Window is occasionally labeled as a risky site (sometimes a red banner). Be assured, the site has no cookies, ads, malicious content (aside from my attempt at humor), or malware – click away with abandon and please let your provider know Wayne’s Window is safe.
In Santa Rosa at Montgomery Village, some great acts play into early October. Music is offered on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. About the “dance floor” – the surface is aggregate/concrete, but space is allotted for dancers. One couple has told me they enjoy dancing at this site. Upcoming, July 27 Johnny Vegas has his “Rock ‘n Soul Review,” billed with “Be prepared to dance!” For more info:
Just when I thought I’d discovered a new source for dancers ( www.aboutdancing.info ) … I find they have folded. Last February 2018 issue, posted: THE END
I recommend the website as a “time sink” for interesting articles and (mostly live) links. Too much information abounds. Don’t trust the dates and venues.
Friday, at Dance Arts (San Rafael), I dropped in for a group Rumba lesson followed by general dancing. Relatively new faces, Seth and Nichole split the dancers into two groups into separate ballrooms, based on talent. Seth’s light wit kept everyone at ease, while Nichole’s talent kept us on our toes.
Saturday, SwingSet played the Lighthouse Bar & Grill (Strawberry). We danced Swing, Rumba, Foxtrot (Peabody), Cha Cha, etc. We didn’t hear any Waltzes or Tango; which is just as well, since the floor becomes crowded with five or six couples. The dance floor continues to have food and beverage sticky spots. That evening, virtually all the dancers were talented. The band prefers to inject a jam session into each song, resulting in lengths of six minutes or more. No short pieces were played. Remember to keep supporting live music in Marin by tipping. Tipping ranged from “generous” (dancers) to “tight-wad” (non-dancers). How come people can go into the City, pay a king’s ransom for tolls and parking, yet in the ‘burbs, be stingy with tips?
July 16, 2019
Posted in "Venues" is a list averaging 100+ dances weekly in the North Bay and beyond. This site had been down for 48 hours due to my host not allowing access for editing - I'm glad it is fixed now.
This is the season when the bands at Margaret Todd Center and Mill Valley Community Center go on summer break. Other favorites, such as B Street Ballroom and Corte Madera Community Center have dances this month; though Corte Madera’s band will take off August.
This week, I attended a lecture about aging, memory, language, and the brain. Bottom line: exercise gets more blood to the brain, which keeps the brain in good shape. Noticeable improvements have been seen in those who walk 7 – 9 miles a week. Better yet, “… greater brain activation following a single session of exercise suggests that exercise may increase neural processes underlying semantic memory activation in healthy older adults.” Further, this April, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine wrote: “… Dancing: linked to cognitive benefits …” out of 11 different physical activities, dancing topped the list.
The bad news is the programs/games/websites for memory improvement are no good. Lumosity was fined $2 million for false claims. Crosswords? You get better at crosswords, but not a better memory. Ditto Sudoku and the like. The speaker told us that all of these are “entertainment” and nothing more.
July 9, 2019
I’m so proud of myself – here (see "Venues) is a list averaging 100 dances weekly in the North Bay (and beyond). It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy publishing Wayne’s Window. Note that most venues are hyperlinked, allowing you to easily access their websites.
I should mention the Tonga Room, but this is not an endorsement. This is a San Francisco legend. The Tonga Room was built around the old Fairmont Hotel swimming pool. Flanked on either side of the pool are tables for diners. Abutted at one end is the dance floor, bar, and lounge. The Island Groove Band performs on a floating bandstand in the middle of the pool, playing all the music we desire for dancing, all in a gigantic Tiki Bar setting, while we eat Polynesian food. What could be more delightful?
It is not as it seems: reservations are no longer accepted, cover charge ranges from $10-$15 per person, on-site parking exceeds $50, solo dancers converge upon the floor, occasional drinks in hand while dumping their satchels/packs around the perimeter of the floor. Add to this, a costly dinner and fighting the traffic to get to Union Square. Chris and I are unlikely return, but if you are interested here is a link to the website:
Friday, I drove north to Rohnert Park to The Ballroom for a West Coast Swing lesson taught by Elizabeth, followed by a two-hour dance practice. The concise lesson included four patterns. For those just beginning, Terry taught a beginners class in the adjacent room. The expertise of the crowd ranged from raw beginner to high-Silver. The dance floor is excellent. A few of the songs elicited “What type of dance is this?” For example, one song my partner and I experimented Bolero, Rumba, and Night Club Two-Step – none worked. Other studios have announced the type/style dance intended for the song. Many dancers wish The Ballroom would follow suit, as well as forethought put into the appropriateness of song. I recommend The Ballroom overall, for its quality of instruction, free parking, excellent dance floor, pleasant dancers, and reasonable prices.
Saturday, I met up with the Swing Nuts dance club at the Big Easy in Petaluma. The Dorian Mode played an older form of jazz. Most of the music was conducive to Swing and Lindy. I’ve eaten here before, and the quality of dishes is still high. The place is a paradox. While the tables might have cloths on them, with quality flatware wrapped in cloth napkins, the food is served on paper plates by staff in t-shirts. The “dance floor” is concrete. This evening, the table layout restricted the “dance floor” to about five or six couples. Be aware that the restaurant’s website calendar could be better if it were to list the genre of the night’s music. For example, I nearly passed over this band except for last-minute notice from one of my readers.
Remember that Starduster Orchestra at the Mill Valley venue is off July and August. They return to the Mill Valley Community Center in September. Ditto, People of Note are not playing at Margaret Todd Center in July and August.
July 2, 2019
Friday at Sausalito Seahorse, everything got off to a good start, such as making reservations via the website. The table was waiting for us, near the dance floor, as requested for 7pm. Then issues started to pop up. The website calendar posted the band’s start time at 8pm with no cover charge posted. We thought that odd, and sure enough, $15 each was the cost to get in. Service began as “sufficient,” falling to “snail’s pace” as the place filled up. Our guests declared the salmon and sole “very good,” while our trout was a bit on the overcooked side, yet “yummy.” As we wrapped up dinner, it became apparent that the band was not starting at 8pm. At 8:30, they were still setting up. It took 10 minutes to get our check, pay and get out (we were refunded our $60 cover charge). Will we go back? Chris and I will likely return and will keep our expectations low, but our guests refuse.
Jim B. reports having “a wonderful time” when Swingset played “old school foxtrots, rumbas, and swings” at the Lighthouse in Strawberry Saturday. As usual, “the service was weak … and the floor still seems sticky.”
Mark Hopkins has a beautiful Peacock Court ballroom on the ground floor. It is kept a secret by the hotel. The Sunkings (Beatles cover band) played Friday with no promotion by the hotel. As it is, the calendar for the Top of the Mark is difficult to find on the webpage, but the ballroom is fully ignored.
Things heated up at the B Street Ballroom Sunday. The A/C was turned off. Those who went just to listen complained that it was cool, while the dancers were complaining about the heat. I’ve no solution.
June 25, 2019
No special news this week.
June 12, 2019
Reminder that this month is the last chance to dance, until September, at Mill Valley Community Center and Margaret Todd Center (Novato). Both bands, Starduster Orchestra and People of Note are taking off July and August. On a similar note, the Ray Simpson Band will not play in August at the Corte Madera Community Center.
Off subject, but important to me, are closure of favorite San Francisco non-dance venues this year. Beach Blanket Babylon (Dec. 31) and The Speakeasy (Aug.4). Everyone knows about BBB, but The Speakeasy is somewhat unknown. It is immersive theater, 3 hours with about 4-dozen performers (you get your money’s worth). More fun if you wear ’20s/’30s costumes and blend in with the show. I have one word for you: Go!
The Speakeasy is discounted through Goldstar (https://www.goldstar.com). You don’t know about Goldstar? It’s a “bucket shop” - a ticket discounter, has been around for many years. Tours, sports events, comedy, shows – they offer discounts from FREE to 50% off. You have friends coming into town? Check out Goldstar. I see one of our regular venues, Fenix, has posted on Goldstar.
Friday Swing dances at Ellington Hall have been reduced to once-a-month (second Friday).
According to the Sausalito Seahorse calendar, the Sunday Salsa class has been dropped and the Salsa bands will start earlier – at 4pm.
The Top of the Mark is again in my good graces; the website was revamped, hiding events. The music calendar is still a bit difficult to find, but it is there. Prices have dropped, Wednesday and Thursday are now free and Saturday’s cover charge has dropped to $10 (a $5 savings)
June 4, 2019
Just discovered West Coast Swing at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco. For years, I’ve been touting its Salsa on Mondays, now it features WC Swing on Tuesdays.
Sometimes in social settings (bars come to mind), we just don’t want to dance with somebody under the influence, mostly for their and my safety. I’ve come up with something to say: “No thank you; I can’t match your energy.”
Friday, Chris and I drove into the City to see the Sun Kings play the Peacock Court at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. The Peacock Court is an Art Deco ballroom on the main floor, still decked out in all of its ’20s and ’30s splendor (pictured here). A portable 16 x 24-dance floor was set up in front of the stage, though not large enough to hold the dancers all the time. At times, we chose to dance on the side on the carpet. The Sun Kings have quite the following, justifiably, because they match all the Beatles’ songs, note by note.
Did you know that “Norwegian Wood” is a Viennese Waltz? I wouldn’t have believed it myself until I saw a couple zigzag through the crowd effectively. Other dances that are conducive to the Beatles’ music are West and East Coast Swing, Rumba, Argentine Tango, Shag, Cha-Cha, and the ever-popular “freestyle.”
The price was $40; cocktails and snacks are available for purchase. I say, “Check it out June 28th.”
Parking at the Mark Hopkins (valet) and adjacent garages is getting close to a king’s ransom. My gift to you is a tip to park on Pine Street behind the hotel. It is a tow away zone until 7 PM, and after that, it’s free 2-hour parking until 10 PM, then unrestricted until morning – so read the signage and save money. The hike up Mason Street will be worth it.
Saturday, Legal Aid of Marin held a charity and fundraiser dinner/dance at the Peacock Gap Clubhouse in San Rafael. Roberta Donnay & The Prohibition Mob Band played music from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. Chris and I mostly had the dance floor to ourselves for Foxtrot, Peabody, Quickstep, and East Coast Swing. The portable dance floor had noticeable edges, but nothing obstructive. Yes, it was pricey, but for a great cause. Besides, how often do you get a near-empty dance floor? I’ll give a heads up for when they do it again next year if the band appeals to us.
May 28, 2019
Stay healthy with dance. A Japanese study of elderly women who did not exercise compared to those who frequently danced found the dancers were “more likely to retain independence in five activities” – more so than those who walked or in other ways exercised. “Researchers say dance may have helped because it combines movement, balance, endurance, and focus.”
Sources: “Scandinavian Journal of Medicine” and Consumers Reports “On Health”
Karen reports that Friday afternoons at Finley Hall in Santa Rosa is fast becoming her favorite dance venue. I specifically asked about the Carl Green Duo/Trio/Band, which I’ve heard grumblings about, but she says they are getting better.
Big Band: Here is an excerpt from a 2003 PBS video about Big Band in the Bay Area, featuring local talent, Cynthia Glinka.
Note Cynthia’s comment: “It is the marriage of the dancer with the musician. We fuel them to play better – they fuel us to dance.”
Anyone remember Sweets or Ali Baba Ballrooms? If interested in the 57-minute version, you can find “Big Band Magic! A Celebration of the Great Bay Area Dance Halls of the 40's” at Amazon or eBay for under $10. I think it is worth it.
Top of the Mark has stopped listing entertainment and has not replied to my email inquiry; thus it has been dropped by Wayne’s Window.
May 21, 2019
Bands do feed off the energy of the crowd. Have you ever spoken in front of a group and felt the vitality (or lack of)? Same thing. I spoke with one of the singers who has performed at the Mill Valley Community Center. The singer’s attitude is “There are better places to perform.” This is solely because of lack of applause from the dancers – not the cheap tipping. Think about it.
The Starduster Orchestra plays tonight (Tuesday) at the Mill Valley Community Center. In my opinion, this THE premiere venue for couples dancing in the North Bay. We hope to see you there.
We welcome Starling Bar in the town of Sonoma, to Wayne’s Window. Per our friends, Sonoma County Dance Beat (http://socodancebeat.com) it has a stage with small dance floor. The band list looks promising. For now, there are no cover charges. Speaking of the town of Sonoma … what ever happened to the Sonoma Speakeasy? It is/was a nice little bar off the Square. If you know anything, drop me a line.
Remember WnY? A while back, they moved the West Coast Swing lessons and dance to Tuesdays at Dance Arts in San Rafael. I dropped in for both of Yenni’s Technique Class and the Beyond Basics Class. She is an excellent teacher, which means she could get through my thick skull and make my feet move in the right direction. At 8:30pm the main dance floor has Open (WC Swing) Dancing. I stayed just long enough to witness a large, focused crowd show up to dance until midnight.
Because of Memorial Day, I’ve verified the last Monday of the month dance at Temple Israel of Alameda featuring Dave’s Swingtime Big Band. If you haven’t experienced the dance venue, then you-are-overdue! For $5 you enjoy 16 professional musicians (from what I’ve heard, there is a waiting list to join the band) having a 2-hour jam session of ballroom, nightclub, and Latin.
Traffic: I recently enrolled for WC Swing lessons at Allegro. Kelly Casanova is a remarkable instructor. I don’t post here in Wayne’s Window because no 60-minute practice session is included. By the way, she teaches in the North Bay in at least three locations I know of, see:
There was a point here about “traffic,” oh … no sooner than the San Rafael/Richmond Bridge traffic was improved with the third lane opened on the lower deck – then the upper deck needed patch-repairs. So the westbound traffic is reduced to just one lane at 9pm to 5am. Supposedly the work will be done by month’s end (Caltrans said it – not me).
CAUTION: A band has emerged titled “Sweet City,” which is not the North Bay favorite Sweet City Blues. You have been warned.
May 14, 2019
Here are almost 200 dance venues I have found for you in the North Bay Area and beyond. Please look it over and if you have any corrections or additions, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Do realize that Wayne’s Window caters to dances/practices, not lessons, though many of the dances have lessons tacked on.
Nightclub Two-Step works well with much of the Jefferson’s Starship music. Wednesday we had a Woodstock flashback at the Marin Center where Big Brother and the Holding Company and Jefferson Starship entertained us for 2 ½ hours. Surprisingly a couple of original band members are still playing. Unexpectedly, the music was not excessively loud and the scent of patchouli oil evaporated early from the aged tie-dyed clothes of graying hippies.
What could be more beautiful than a drive through the Irish green hill of West Marin and Sonoma? Gas up your car and take a tour before the hills turn golden. It is truly amazing that within 15 minutes west of jam-packed Highway 101, you find yourself often the only car on the road. Sunday afternoon we meandered along Bodega Highway to State Route 1 to the Dance Palace in Pt. Reyes (BTW: locals pronounce the town to rhyme with “rays”), to hear the 24-member strong the Albany Jazz Band playing Ballroom, Nightclub, with a touch of Latin for two hours. I was impressed with the layout of the room, acoustics, and the high-quality oak floor. The audience of three dozen saw only four couples dancing most of the afternoon (a few free-stylers joined in occasionally). It is a shame that the Dance Palace has so few dances and is an hour’s drive from Highway 101. As I understand it, The Albany Jazz Band plays but a handful of times each year. The good news is, the rest of the gigs will be in the East Bay. The bad news is most of these will be performances not dances.
May 7, 2019
This week I've discoveded nearly 200 dance venues for the next two weeks in the North Bay Area and beyond. These include Ballroom, Nightclub, Latin, and Tango (different people place tango into various categories – you decide).
Friday night a group of us descended upon the Lighthouse Bar & Grill located on the Strawberry Peninsula in Mill Valley, where the five-member SwingSet band played. Much of the music was West and East Coast Swing and Latin. The dance floor was sticky, but a sock over one shoe helped some of our ladies. We enjoyed our meals and appreciated the service staff. SwingSet is a newly formed band with some minor growing pains. When they play there again June 29, they promise to reduce the length of the songs and incorporate Tango and Waltz.
I am shocked at the dearth of dance studio ballroom dance parties in the North Bay. The regularly scheduled dances at Body Vibe (S. Rafael), Dance Arts (S. Rafael), and The Ballroom (Rht. Park) have vaporized. I hope this loss is only temporary. I do note that Dance Arts will host two dance parties in June. I phoned Arthur Murray in San Rafael to inquire about dance parties. They do have dance parties but want to sell lessons to attend. Their business model does not suit my tastes. For a typical regular weekly-night ballroom dance party that suits me, I’m looking at either Monroe Hall or Allegro.
Tonight, Tuesday, Chris and I are not dancing but rather having a Woodstock flashback by attending the concert at Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium where Jefferson Starship and Big Brother and the Holding Company are performing. Many cheap seats are still available plus a few premium seats can be had – if you act quickly. Bring ear plugs!
Come Dance Marin, one of our invaluable resources for dance information has changed its web address to: www.comedancemarin.org
I did NOT include "What's Hot" in the email newsletter, you must come here to see my recommendations (your tasted may vary).
May 1, 2019
Still traveling, this time Jamaica. Learned some Salsa while away.
Cafe Claude in San Francico web site is down.
April 16, 2019
Just got back from a long overseas' trip. Did not have time to gather news.
March 11, 2019
Expect to hear from me next around mid-April, as I’ll be out of commission for a while. I must emphasize that many of the future venues were vague when I researched them – proceed with caution and verify.
March 5, 2019
Nothing to report.
February 26, 2019
No news to report
February 19, 2019
Posted in "venues" is a list of dances over the next two weeks in the North Bay and beyond. Due to minor hand surgery I’ve been unable to dance or type, so I have been using voice recognition software and the rest I’m doing single-handedly (sorry about the pun).
Recently, we ate and danced at the Lighthouse Bar & Grill. Void Where Prohibited has a new guitarist who has quickly fit in, playing and singing songs from the ’60s & ’70s. We’ve learned to hit the (tile) dance floor with the first song, because one never knows when the alcohol gives false talent to the freestylers. A wonderful time was had by three or four couples dancing EC & WC Swing, Rumba (early Beatles’ ballads), Cha Cha (early Stones), and NC 2-Step. Our meals were well prepared; service was attentive – even with a packed house. Early into the band’s second set the freestylers packed the floor – we left.
During the band’s break, Chris mingled among the tables with the Tip Bucket. Some were generous ($10 apiece), others … not so. One customer presented a $5 dollar bill and asked for $4 back! (This band has no cover charge.)
A heartfelt “thanks” to readers submitting field reports, allowing me to give you some current news.
Monday nights Fil Lorenz Orchestra at Local Edition:
Another inside scoop for ya: Sara and I went to this recently and found out it’s not a dance band nor a dance event. In fact, they bring the band podiums down onto the already-tiny floor so there’s little room to boogie. As for the music? Think more movie score than big band swing. The band is definitely big and loud, but they play almost nothing that can be danced to. I talked to Fil about this and while he does play in dance bands, he said Monday is “the musician’s night to shine” and that the music is for “them” and not for “us” (dancers). – Chris
and another from “Anonymous”:
The Napa Ballroom Dancers met at the Native Sons Hall Feb 9th. The second floor sports a 20-foot ceiling in an early 20th Century architecture with a ‘domed’ danced floor (the wooden dance floor dips toward the edges of the room like the deck of a ship). There were 70-80 active dancers, many familiar faces. After an introductory lesson in Samba, Line Dances in that rhythm proved popular with the dancers, particularly the ones who came in Mardi Gras masks and beads. There were also impromptu Line Dances for Hustle and Cha-Cha rhythms. Available at the refreshment bar was wine and soft drinks plus free popcorn and Valentine cookies. This dance relocated temporarily because of earthquake retrofit work at the Jefferson Street Senior Center. It’ll stay in this older hall through June, returning to Jefferson Street facility in July. Admission was $15 for top notch DJ Steve Luther. Their March 9th dance, which opens at 7pm, will feature live music at 7:45pm from the J Silverheels Band, also at $15 admission.
More “field reports” from readers/dancers would be greatly appreciated, especially until I get the bandages off.
The picture is of Alameda's Elk's Lodge (PEERS') dance floor.
February 11, 2019
This week we have an extended 3-week version of Wayne’s Window. I’d appreciate it if you would view "Venues" and proofread it and submit corrections/omissions.
There seems to be confusion about the next Body Vibe dance party. Megan Smith wrote that it is on the 23rd (NOT this Saturday).
I’m dropping Blues dancing at the Beat in Berkeley due to lack of current information. A developing practice is occurring of using Facebook in lieu of a dedicated web page. So far, my experiences with this format has been disappointing, mostly due to the lack of current information.
Saturday’s Next Generation Swing Dance has moved from Allegro to Two Left Feet in in Danville. More changes at Allegro are in the works in March – stay tuned; check its website, and I’ll let you know in my next newsletter.
Looking ahead, a big Lindy event happens in Oakland Feb. 22 – 24 at Lake Merritt Dance Center. Swinging at the Savoy will have classes/workshops, practices, dances, live music, late night DJ dances. Go to: https://swinginatthesavoy.com
The “Find” command: Ctrl + F is your friend on a PC (Cmd + F on a Mac). Open my attachment. Using MS Word or similar, type Ctrl+F, a box will appear on the upper left. Enter what you are interested in, eg: venue, type of dance, or my basterdized city abbreviation. You will get a list. You do have to be exact, but case sensitive does not matter. Highlighting a word then Ctrl+F will work too. What is really cool, this command works on some web browsers! How often have you “Googled” for a subject, gone to a site, and can’t find what you want? I know I have. Try Ctrl+F! If you have trouble with this, drop me a line.
“Dancers who haven’t been to one of the Presidio-sponsored dance events should be alerted to the fact that, since it is open to the public, many millennial “clubbers” show up and spend the evening standing and bobbing in place on the crowded dance area while they slosh their drinks on the dance floor. I’ve submitted feedback to the organizers about this several years in a row … I explained at length what the problem was and the safety hazard it posed… and they appear to have no interest in monitoring or preventing it. Shame, too, since it’s a beautiful surrounding and they let it be treated that way. I stopped going because it was so aggravating.”
I fully agree with Wendy. The “sloshing dancers” are appearing everywhere, from the Presidio Yacht Club to the Tonga Room. I’ve had modest success dropping the phrase “slip and fall” to management. This is another reason why I recommend hitting the club dance floor as-soon-as-the-music-starts – you don’t know how many dances you’ll get in before the “sloshers” ascend and I sit down.
February 5, 2019
This week readers contribute:
“… I saw Bob Gutierrez multiple times in 2018. (Napa, Rossmoor a few times, and Diablo) My experience was that you never knew which musicians would be with him, so it was not always the same. Sometimes good, and sometimes so-so...”
Another reader writes: “Finley Friday (Santa Rosa) afternoons: This will be my 3rd week in a row. The floor is in excellent condition. The music varies by artist, but there is a good blend of swing, waltz, nc2step, tango, foxtrot, rumba, etc. There is enough room to negotiate the dance floor with some floor crafting. Manny Gutierrez played last Friday. He is one of the better artists. They are always short on leaders. There are some very experienced dancers there.”
“Steve Luther was DJing the music at Finley. He plays music there on the 5th Friday of the month. He played a nice variety of danceable music. There were about 50 people dancing there, with typically about 24 - 30 on the dance floor at any time. Some songs cleared the chairs and crowded the floor, but it was all very manageable. The floor is in good shape. The dancers were having fun, and there was a nice range of experience. As usual, we were short on leaders, but not overwhelming so. The age group was quite mature. I am one of the younger dancers there. Costco cookies served at the 1st break. Yummy”
Yet another reader writes: "On another subject, I followed your link to Breakaway (Oakland) yesterday and did attend the 30-min "taster class" and then danced to Hot Baked Goods. The instructors (Kathy and Greg) said that the patterns taught in the "taster class" vary from week-to-week. So, even if just taking those abbreviated classes for a month, one can assemble a significant repertoire for the dance. Admission to the 30 minute classes is included with the cost of admission to the dance. But wait, there's more! First timers receive a free pass for one DJ dance … beginning about 9. A very well attended dance, a rather young crowd, but definitely a wide range of ages. In February, their regular one-hour Level 1 classes on Tuesday evenings at 8 will cover the basics of "Swinging Charleston." There are higher level classes, too … At 9 pm, there is a DJ dance, but the last Tuesday of the month features a live band."
Back to my Window: Officially, Ashkenaz in Berkeley still has “4th Saturday Swing” – but in name only. Live music will be there, but I’m finding bands that play music other than Swing.
Saturday, we visited the Elks Lodge in Alameda for the PEERS’ dance. Sara & Swingtime played an array of music. PEERS favors Waltz, but this night Swing was featured – almost half the dances were Swing-friendly. There were vintage costumes galore. I did not count the dancers, but the floor size was substantial (see picture) and usually full. Parking in the rear is limited. We parked two blocks away – and consider ourselves lucky. More followers than leaders was the norm here too. It was rather embarrassing that the bandleader had to request applause – more than once.
I’ve got to laugh. I invited a gal in 1930s/’40s period correct British attire to a “waltz.” She was strictly in character. Her English Reel clashed with my American Smooth, leaving me to eventually acquiesce to her “style.”
January 29, 2019
Thursday we had a new discovery in the City –Pagan Idol, the best Tiki bar we’ve seen anywhere (BTW: Waikiki no longer has any Tiki bars). That night we saw Project: Pimento, our favorite local band. Lead is NOT played on a guitar, but rather a theremin (radio waves!). On the tiled small dance floor, one or two couples (four might fit) could dance easily though having to avoid revelers encroaching the space. Project: Pimento played an array of “lounge lizard” music, including Rumba, Swing, Cha-cha, West Coast Swing, and Samba. The band returns to Pagan Idol February 27. Here is the band’s website, click “Sound Samples” to hear the theremin.
Wayne’s Tip of the Week: Parking in San Francisco
We were having difficulty finding a parking garage near the lounge on Bush Street. I did notice empty parking spaces on the street, but they were marked as Commercial. We discovered many of these allow parking after hours – though you probably need a couple years of law school to interpret signs. This technique also works well on Pine Street if you want to go to Top of the Mark. Arrive just before 7pm when the Tow Away ends. You can thank me later.
I checked out the Pinole Senior Center where Manny Gutierrez Quartet plays the last Friday of the month. The female singer added a little extra pizzazz to the dance. The dance floor is the typical community center wood floor. It was definitely a senior center crowd. A substantial snack buffet was offered at 9. Beverages were available for purchase. I suggest taking a dance partner with you; leaders aren’t plentiful.
I also saw the Manny Gutierrez Quartet (without female vocalist) Sunday when I danced briefly again to his music at the B Street Ballroom, same music – different locale.
But, I was not yet finished dancing on Sunday. An invitation to a party in Rossmore reintroduced us to the Bob Gutierrez band, who we’d not seen since the old Strawberry Swingers days. The trio played a delightful array of Ballroom, Swing, and Latin. I wish that band would return to a venue in the Marin.
Hint about Rancho Nicasio: usually, if the music is on a Friday or Sunday with no cover charge, then the band is playing in the bar with no space to dance.
You may be interested in “Dance Around the World,” a $50 showcase performed at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco Sunday, February 10 at 5. Know that you will not be dancing. For more information: www.genesisdancesport.com
Look for a huge Swing event at the Lake Merritt Dance Center at the end of February – see “To Watch For” tab.
January 22, 2019
Replying to my comments about the Presidio Yacht Club an anonymous reader replies:
“That’s sad to hear about under-tipping at PYC. If there’s no cover, I always tip $20/couple AND buy something at the venue (usually 1-2 drinks or an appetizer or a dessert). Nearly every musician I know has to hustle, with many of them working several jobs to make ends meet. Anything less than this is freeloading off talent that took decades to develop … If you can’t afford the amazing live music we have here, go DJ dancing for $5 … There are no official “tip guidelines” but if you like dancing to live music, $20/couple is a worthy fee for the amount of fun we’re all having AND a great investment in the amazing live music scene in the bay area. Tipping will keep it that way.”
I too hope this wakeup call encourages all dancers need to open their wallets to maintain the many live venues we enjoy.
At the Fenix on Thursday, the Klipptones surprised us with their diversity of music that ran tunes from 1940s swing to modern-day. They even asked for requests! Though the crowd was only one-third of the house capacity, dancers took to the floor for every song. The restaurant was agreeable to moving tables, allowing more dance floor.
It is interesting about the Klipptones. Two readers have contrasting opinions:
“We first caught the Klipptones when they played the Palace Hotel in SF; they're a little different, blending music styles of older and newer songs; creative and entertaining!”
“I have found the Klipptones to be a very annoying group (at the Top of the Mark) … they played stuff that seemed to be for their own pleasure and wasn’t danceable all. Maybe one in three or four were danceable … Hard to understand this group.”
Thank you both for your input. We found the Klipptones danceable with every song, offering a variety of dance, e.g. East Coast, Swing, Rumba, Cha Cha, Peabody, West Coast Swing. (Yes, Peabody … but floor space necessary. It lies between Foxtrot & Quickstep).
January 15, 2019
Welcome to Wayne’s Window. Posted under "Venues" is a list of dances that you might consider over the next 14 days here in the North Bay and beyond. I focus on structured dances; you won’t find free-style or Hip-Hop. Also, you will have to look elsewhere for Polka, Square Dance, Flamenco, etc.
Last week the Alpha Rhythm Kings crossed the Bay, coming to play the Fenix in San Rafael. The six-piece band delighted us with vintage swing. Over a dozen accomplished couples put on their own show for us filling the tile dance floor to its maximum.
I’m told the crowd was a tad smaller than usual at the Corte Madera Community Center where the Ray Simpson Band played a variety of music. Still, the dance floor had up to 10 couples dancing Ballroom, Nightclub, and Latin.
Maria from the Presidio Yacht Club says in lieu of live music on Thursdays be sports TV will be on because of small crowds and under tipping of the bands.
South San Francisco is about the same drive time from San Rafael as is Santa Rosa. Sunday afternoon, Chris and I ventured down for five hours of the Golden Gate Smooth Dancers dinner and dance. The layout is much like other community centers: large multi-purpose wood floor (with a pole in the middle), decent acoustics, free parking, kitchen, etc. The music was DJ. $35 buys a lesson, dancing, appetizer, dinner, wine, soda pop, coffee, and dessert. As the name implies, much of the music was “smooth” (American & Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep, and Tango); many variations of Latin were played, plus some Swing – heck, they even had time to fit in two Line Dances. We are looking forward to the next time we can go. Tell your friends.
January 8, 2019
Here on Wayne’s Window is a list (see "Venues") of about 100 dances each week in the North Bay and beyond. I don’t report lessons and classes, though many of the dances have them tacked on. If you know of any dances that should be included, PLEASE let me know.
I’ve been out of circulation with little to report. Recently, I asked for contributions; here are two:
Nick’s at Rockaway Beach, just 15 miles from SF, features live music every Friday and Saturday night. When there is a dearth of attractive offerings elsewhere, Nick’s is our default go-to place. Downbeat at 8 and they often play to midnight. You get a first set of good dance tempos; the second set get a bit of a mix and the never-bothered-to-learn-to-dance people start to take over with their ugly gyrations, but the third and fourth sets tend to see a thinned out dance floor and the band takes requests. No cover. Food is good meal in the dining room, or sit in the lounge, order a crab sandwich and enjoy an inexpensive dance night and dinner.
Merry Mixers at the Elk Lodge in Walnut Creek every other Friday night is a good value too. Dynamite desserts subscribe to their email list to learn which bands play. Nice floor, nice folks, easy parking and no free-style gyrators.
The achoo is one of my pet peeves.
Whenever dancers tell me they can’t come dance because they are sick, I commend them for staying home and taking care of themselves, and I thank them for not exposing the entire community to whatever is going around.
No one likes to miss out. But, dance is indeed a contact sport. We must be vigilant about not infecting one another.
January 1, 2019
Greetings from Wayne’s Window – we made it into another year. I plan to keep plugging away to find you places to dance Ballroom, Latin, and Night Club. This edition I’m just shy of one hundred places each week in the North Bay and beyond.
My treat to you – FREE MUSIC for home use: www.tropicalglen.com
Playa Cofi Jukebox has a vast library of music. Midway is a category for Dance Music, from Bolero to Waltz (Disco is placed elsewhere). If you like it as much as me, please use the Donate button and click the ads to further support the site.
Last Friday night we ventured north to Monroe Hall’s “Big Band Dance Party.” Andrea Nelson did a marvelous job of teaching for an hour of Foxtrot to a good-sized crowd of varying skills – followed by a dance party – all for $10. The music was not as “big band” as I expected. DJ Steve Luther played also music to appease the Country contingent present. I loved Steve’s constant reminding floor etiquette of stationary dancers staying in the center to allow traveling dancers the perimeter. Thanks, Steve!
Chris and I danced in the New Year aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to the sound of 3 O’Clock Jump. The music favored Swing, we enjoyed plenty of Foxtrot, plus Waltz, NC 2-Step, Cha Cha, Rumba, and Samba. Chris and I eked out a Peabody to one song. The place was packed – some guests wearing period costumes of the ‘40s, others in Black Tie. Three modular dance floors were laid out throughout the maintenance deck. We chose to purchase the mid-tier table seating. VIP seating is subject to being blasted by music. If you haven’t been to a dance here, do try to make it to the next one – you won’t be disappointed.
The Napa Tuesday Night Dancers have ceased until the Napa Senior Center reopens due to poor attendance at the Pelosi Building. Hopefully, they will resume with more attention to publicity, past announcements were nearly non-existent.
We say “good-bye” to San Geronimo Golf Club. This venue once hosted live music and inexpensive buffets, but it has closed with only a faint ray of hope for rebirth.
December 26, 2018
From now on, the days will get longer – as does my list of places to dance in the North Bay and beyond.
My postings are done with “due diligence,” but many of the venues are shaky on reporting, especially around holidays.
New Year’s Eve: My last count was over two dozen; yes, other parties abound, but their “dance” is different from ours.
Here is a website for NYE parties in The City: https://sfnewyearseve.com/
I didn’t find much – at least nothing our crowd would be interested in, at best an occasional Latin dance floor is tagged on almost as an afterthought. All are DJs, and you know what that means.
For two hours last Tuesday, the Starduster Orchestra keep the crowd on the floor at the Mill Valley Community Center. Sheilah Glover and Noah Griffin accompanied the band with vocals. During the band break, recorded music kept us going. The male-to-female ratio started with more leads but later the scale tipped the other direction. This venue continues to be the favorite venue in our household.
Last Wednesday, expecting a slim chance of (as we know it) dancing, but wanting to get out of the house and do something different, George’s (San Rafael) seemed to be the place to do it. After a stellar review in the Marin IJ, The Happys seemed just what the doctor ordered. The band identifies themselves as “punk-surf.” Both are favorite styles of my Chris; she knew the punk lyrics. And, yes, the dancers looked to be on pogo sticks. The band did a short set, then opened the mike to other musicians. The bar posted the start time wrong (it should be 9pm) and the room was chilly because the door stayed open which allowed the smokers’ air in, but the band’s 5 songs pleased the Wife, and we all know that is one of the secrets of life (she made me write that).
It appears Cellspace (SF) at the SOMArts Cultrual Center is inactive for all of January. Ditto the Thursday Milonga La Paz at the Veterans Building (SF), but the Sunday Milongas will continue. The Ballroom (Rohnert Park) website is out of date, but will have dance parties in January.
December 18, 2018
I’ve unearthed in the North Bay over 100 dances each week (see "Venues") for your pleasure. Many of these include lessons (usually prior). With the holidays upon us, your close scrutiny is necessary, since times and closures may happen.
Where are the ladies? In the last 7 days, I’ve been to 2 group lessons and 3 dances. 4 had more men than women, the other was exactly even … just thought I’d mention.
Last Wednesday, the Corte Madera Community Center had a good-sized crowd, despite the smooth concrete dance floor. The Ray Simpson Band played a vast array of dance music, Swing having a slight preference. Tablecloths and pitchers of water on each table was a nice touch. The treats/snacks were abundant. Remember, all this is free, though a tip jar was passed around (thanks, Steve).
Tonight is the Mill Valley Community Center Holiday Dance with the Starduster Orchestra. These other community center dances will be “dark” this month: Margaret Todd Center, B Street Ballroom (San Rafael Community Center), Pinole Senior Center, and Temple Israel.
Last weekend, Dance Arts (San Rafael) put on magnificent dance showcases at both of its Holiday Parties. Ron Montez taught both nights, a simplistic Cha Cha lesson Friday and ramped up the complexity at bit for Saturday’s Rumba lesson.
Across town Saturday night, Megan Smith did a stellar job teaching Night Club 2-Step at Body Vibe, substituting for Frank Flores (blew his knee out in a freak accident).
On my last count I’ve found 15+ NYE venues (have I missed any?) from Oakland to Pacifica to Santa Rosa to Napa and in between. Chris and I are favoring Swing dancing with or without period attire on the USS Hornet. You have lots to choose from, with varying price ranges from zero to $425 p.p. (Top of the Mark).
December 11, 2018
Double-check each venue, as schedules get a little crazy around Christmas time. In the “To Watch For” numerous listings for NYE abound. Do you have any to add to the list?
Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88’s played Fenix in San Rafael last Friday. The band specializes in Boogie Woogie; all East Coast Swing/Lindy with a few songs West Coast Swing friendly. The band started 25 minutes late, but once they got going, they were wonderful. I wish the same could be said about the restaurant, best described as spotty. The server was casual, edging toward unprofessional (oh, how I miss New Orleans’ service). A friend told me, after waiting for a draft beer order for 30 minutes and calling the server on it, he was told to “be patient.” The crab cakes appetizer was more cake than crab, yet the salmon was cooked to perfection. Yes, we will return but with lower expectations.
I’m planning to continue my listing of Peri’s in Fairfax, but the report below is less than glowing. Go for the music and drink and maybe get in a West Coast Swing or similar.
Field report: “We did make it to Peri's. The place smelled like an ashtray. The dance space was tiny, and the only place to sit near the dance floor and leave your purse, jacket, etc. was at the bar. We waited 1/2 an hour for the band to tune up and start playing, but instead they tuned up and started drinking and visiting. We never heard them play. It felt awkward to me, since I have never really been into the bar scene. I am going to say, unless you are a local at that bar, give it a pass for dancing.”
Note that Just Dance (Oakland) is having not one, but two parties this coming weekend – ditto Dance Arts (San Rafael).
December 4, 2018
Again, the Internet is plaguing me. Sunday, I emailed a Wayne’s Window supplement – it seems that no one got it, even though Comcast and Microsoft Outlook says it was successfully sent. Remember come to this website for updates between my email blasts.
New Year’s Eve isn’t that far away. I’ve found 15 venues but am always looking for more – got any ideas? Right now, we are considering the USS Hornet.
Napa Ballroom Dancers relocated to Napa Native Sons Hall, 937 Coombs Street until the Napa Senior Activity Center remodel is completed.
Chris and I have just returned from our favorite Jamaican resort. It is your typical “all inclusive” which includes dance music. We were delighted to see multiple couples doing structured dance, such as Rumba, East & West Coast Swing, Hustle, Night Club 2-Step, and Cha Cha. Such didn’t happen every night – more the exception than the rule. My advice: if you stray from the dance studio and specialty parties, brush up on your EC & WC Swing, maybe a bit of Rumba and NC 2-Step would help too – leave your Foxtrot and Waltz home.
It appears from the Terrace Room’s website, that it has no entertainment this month, though I overheard there a gig on the 13th. Ditto Le Colonial - after tonight, no postings.
Sunday, I dropped in at Suite 114 (a rec room at a Sausalito elementary school) for 2 hours of Swing dancing hosted by Jasmine. Music was from a play list, the crowd was just the right size. Though no follow-up dance has been scheduled, I’ll be looking forward to the next, when-ever-it-is.
News from readers:
City Swing Big Band looked promising at Sausalito Seahorse, but were not up to par from previous gigs. To appease listeners, Christmas music was played intermittently – not something that can easily be danced to.
The same night, at Lighthouse Bar & Grille, Tiger Lynn Band wowed the small crowd (reads, lots of room on the dance floor).
Last Tuesday, at Ashkenaz, Tom Rigney & Flambeau excelled in infusing energy into a full dance floor. He plays throughout the Bay Area – keep an eye out for him (he returns to Ashkenaz Dec. 18 and Rancho Nicasio Jan. 12).
November 13, 2018
This week's venue list is longer, as I’ll be out of town scuba diving. The next two, maybe three weeks will NOT have a Wayne’s Window newsletter. Remember you can always go to the web site for the latest updates right here.
With the Holidays coming up fast, I ask you to review my “To Watch For” list for your favorite dance. If it is not posted – drop me a line at the above email address.
Did you notice after the “Miscellaneous Ramblings” section on the "Home" tab, I’ve posted six websites that you might appreciate visiting for more dance information?
Over Thanksgiving Day, most places are closed. For those that posted “business as usual,” I would reconfirm before going out.
I got a negative field report about Novato’s Trek Winery. No dance space was available. When I visited, the slate floor had a small amount of room for dance behind the seating, near the entrance.
I’m dropping San Geronimo Golf Course, again. I spoke with the food manager – things are shaky. Only if you live in the Valley would you want to chance the Tuesday and Friday night buffet and music. I’ll let you know if anything changes.
November 6, 2018
I won’t be seeing you on the dance floor this week. A head cold has knocked my legs out from under me, but it hasn’t prevented me from discovering for you 100 dances each week here in Marin and beyond (Oakland to Napa and San Francisco to Santa Rosa).
Fog City Stomp returns to San Francisco this weekend with numerous locations, workshops and classes. If you are liking Lindy Hop and Solo Jazz, then I suggest you check out the web page.
Saturday, we were at the USS Hornet to dance to the music of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Over 300 people showed up, many in black tie (75th anniversary), others in period attire. One large dance floor and two half-sized were sufficient since many came just to listen. BTW: those who bought the fancy VIP seats in front of the band were blasted away by the music’s volume (happens every time). Foxtrot was played the most (which we could do as an EC Swing), followed by Swing, and very few Latin numbers. I saw some accomplished dancers doing Balboa and West Coast Swing. The event drew couples – very few singles to be found. The evening was perfect, including the weather.
Across the Bay at the Presidio Officers Club, the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra packed them in for a festive Swing dance.
I’ve previously emailed readers about the Holly Ball in Berkeley December 8. Manny Gutierrez Quartet will be playing at this dinner/dance. The menu looks scrumptious! If you didn’t receive the flyer, contact me.
October 30, 2018
Hello Fellow Dancers,
Halloween is behind us – well most of the parties are. I’m beginning to compile venues for New Year’s Eve. If you find one, please share.
I wanted to report the Napa Tuesday Night Dance is “alive and well,” but attendance has been down. Moreover, it will most likely worsen, now moving to the same night as the Vallejo Moose. NTND has moved to Mondays and to a new location - the Pelusi Building, 2296 Streblow Drive, Napa. Attendance will continue to worsen if they don’t update the Facebook page and publicize elsewhere. November’s dance will be on the 5th and December on the 3rd. The dance is from 7pm to 9:30pm with a DJ. Did you know if you bring you parents, they get in free?
I just stumbled upon Vintage Invasion, which meets at the BFUU Hall in Berkley. Its motto: “....where the old dances invade a new generation.” It is on the fourth Saturday of every month. Lesson at 8pm, DJ music at 9pm, and live music promised at 10pm. Looking at the playlist, more than half is Waltz and its variations; the rest is Swing, WCS/Cha Cha, Polka, Foxtrot, etc. The next dance is November 23.
Last Tuesday, the Margaret Todd Center had a light turnout for the live music by People of Note. This is a great venue to practice your ballroom skills – give it a try next month on the 27th.
Friday, Marin had its tricks and treats. The trick was on Dance Arts and Body Vibe in San Rafael; both competing with Halloween dance parties that night. Dancers were torn between which to attend; many would have preferred to support both studios on different nights. The treat that Friday night went to Alma del Tango – packing the dance floor with costumed dancers.
The B Street Ballroom in San Rafael had a good turnout Sunday. About a quarter showed up in costume. I think half showed up for the snacks. Manny Gutierrez Quartet played a wide variety of music.
October 23, 2018
The large ballroom crowd at the Mill Valley Community Center danced to the Starduster Orchestra. The surprise was an additional singer, Andy Giddings, along with Sheila Glover. Andy belted out two solos beautifully, and then did a duet with Sheila. Andy didn’t sing until six years ago – says a lot about what a good vocal coach can do.
Saturday, Chris and I dropped in on Frank Flores’ Dance Party at Body Vibe Studio. Frank taught a compressed Night Club 2-Step lesson that all handled with aplomb. Afterward, he led a dance party including at least a dozen different dances (eg: Tango, Waltz, Samba, EC & WC Swing, etc.). He posted a playlist on the wall including suggested dance (some songs can be done in different dances), name of the song, artist, and length. Such is much appreciated; I hope other venues do the same.
Mt. Tam Swing is reported to have been a resounding success. The place was packed. Everyone hopes it will happen again – soon!
Sunday, Jasmine Worrell hosted a Swing lesson and practice party in Sausalito at the grammar school, aka: Studio 144. It was all Lindy, Balboa, EC & WC Swing. I found a partner to do a Peabody. My Peabody is between a Foxtrot and Quickstep – every count is a step.
How I came to dance the Peabody: Those who have danced with me know two things: #1: I can’t remember names and #2: can’t keep the beat. So my attempting a “slow” (one step in two beats) in Foxtrot seldom happens. A few years back at a studio dance party my worst nightmare happened – an instructor asked me to dance! It was a Foxtrot. Intimidated to no end, nevertheless I did my best. Shortly, she exclaimed, “Oh, so you do the Peabody!” To which I exclaimed, “Aaa, err – yes!”
Rancho Nicasio is a wonderful venue – worth the drive. Problem is that most Friday nights the music is in the bar, which has no room to dance. Saturdays, the music is in the dining room with a decent dance floor and good food (service is unpredictable).
Lindy on Sproul Facebook page says it returns Saturday afternoon at UCB. Still, confirm before going out. They are CROWDFUNDING to keep on going – Wayne’s Window sent a few bucks their way. Maybe you can too?
Halloween parties abound in just a few days (see “What’s Hot”). For costumes, Spirit stores are plentiful all over the Bay Area. But buy/rent at a local year-round store. Many are also dance supply. I like Downtown San Rafael’s D’Lynnes Danceware for the vast assortment of put-together-costumes, but also for the makeup advice. Also nearby in San Rafael is The Belrose. Do an Internet (“Google”) for a store near you – there is still time.
October 16, 2018
I’m now averaging over 100 dances (not lessons, though some incorporate lessons) in the North Bay and beyond. See "Venues" -Enjoy!
I’ve scoured the North Bay for Halloween Parties. In my opinion, the best party of the bunch is not in the North Bay, but on Alameda Island at the former Air Terminal where the USS Hornet is berthed. On the 27th inside on the Maintenance Deck, Lee Presson & the Nails (think “Spike Jones meets Big Band) will play danceable rock of the ’60s and ’70s. It’s “invite costume contest” –means if you look good enough, secret judges will “invite” you to the contest. Food and beverage will be available for purchase. Parking is free and abundant.
Folks, we have to loosen up our wallets. Maria wrote me about the Presidio Yacht Club. The bands have been playing for free Thursday nights at this hidden gem of a “dive bar” with a million-dollar view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Presidio. The tip jars have been lean. Bands are not coming back. Maria writes “… due to lack of Tip Jar participation for the band, there will be a $5 Cover! Cannot expect musicians to go home with nothing!” Personally, we tip at least $5 apiece – that’s less than a latte!
Last Thursday, I arrived at Nick’s in Pacifica in time to see the sunset behind two dozen custom/older cars from the ’50s and ’60s. Inside at the bar, The Soundwaves knocked out music from the ’50s to ’70s. Their sound was “rock” solid. This night they were a trio, other nights a quartet. The 15’ x 20’ linoleum dance floor was near barren, aside from the mother who wanted to dance with her 2-year-old and an occasional free-style couple.
Things were different at Sausalito Seahorse Friday night where Unauthorized Rolling Stones played. The place was packed beyond capacity, yet we received the best food & beverage service ever (what a change). We hit the empty brick floor immediately when the band opened with the Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night,” which we made into a Cha Cha. Before the song was over, the crowd converted the dance space into a mosh pit. Too bad, some of the songs (cover and original) were agreeable to WC Swing and Night Club 2-Step. Amazingly, in the first set, no Rolling Stones song were played. I should note the between-set-band was horrible, “open mic night” quality, minimal applause.
The Big Easy in Petaluma served up wonderful meals as we listened to an impromptu trio Saturday, which was not the band we expected, The Hots started an hour late – just as we were leaving. The Big Easy bands do not start on time.
Again, at the Big Easy, the no-name band was belting out great songs and the tip jar stayed empty. Chris took up the jar and walked it through the room. She reminded people the $5 cover does not go wholly to the band (sometimes not at all). Some under 35 y.o. gave blank stares of “who carries cash now a days?” and stiffed the band. Most others were kind and gave.
Per Santa Rosa’s Flamingo Lounge’s website, the Tuesday night Kizomba has been dropped.
October 9, 2018
The good news is that I’ve located over 100 dances each week in the North Bay and beyond. The bad news are computers, Internet, etc. It seems Comcast won’t let me send emails with abundant hyperlinks (did you notice that clicking on the venue will take you to its website?). Worse news: the Wayne’s Window web site is broken.* The home page is a big display of gray. There is a work-around, but I won’t labor you with it. A pro and myself are working on it with hopes of repair shortly.
* You are reading this now, so the patch must have worked.
Lindy Hop fans should know about Fog City Stomp scheduled for Nov. 9 – 11.
Classes are held every day followed by live music and competitions.
Take note that Napa Ballroom Dancers will have its last dance at 1500 Jefferson on October 13. After, they move to Napa Native Sons Hall, 937 Coombs St. Its cousin, Napa Tuesday Night is silent.
The first Halloween dance of the season will be this coming Sunday in So. San Francisco at the Golden Gate Smooth Dancers dinner/dance. If you plan to go, reservations must be made by Wednesday. Many other venues are checking in with Halloween dances – see “Watch For.”
Need a costume? Here in Marin I recommend D’Lynns on Fourth Street or Belrose on Fifth Stree, both in San Rafael. D’Lynns also has a vast array of accessories and makeup (with advice).
The Wine Country Ragtime Festival happens in Sonoma this coming weekend: https://winecountryragtimefestival.com
Salsa at Space 550 in San Francisco: The Dance Fridays group has expanded to Dance Saturdays. The difference is live music on Fridays – DJ on Saturdays. Deeply discounted tickets may be obtained online.
re: 9:20 Special, though the web site says “Lindy lessons,” last week it was Charleston. Go, have a good time, but know that the lesson may not be what you expected.
Lindy on Sproul (Berkeley) website is no more, so I’ll assume so is the Saturday dance. If you have information otherwise, please let me know.
Local Edition in the City is no longer posting its bands, making it near impossible to list; further, I’m told the dance space is tiny. Until I hear otherwise, I’ve no choice to but to drop it from Wayne’s Window.
October 2, 2018
I’m back from scuba diving (I got a few dances in at the resort) and have found over 100 dances for you each week in the North Bay and beyond. Double-check my listings; any errors I’ll blame on jet lag.
In September, three Marin big bands returned from a summer break. At Mill Valley Community Center the Starduster Orchestra was refreshed and in fine form. Dancers coming from other counties speak to the quality of this venue. The admission increase to $15 did little to affect the crowd size.
As I observed at Mill Valley and other places, women often waiting to dance. If you want to dance:
· Don’t sit at the back tables.
· Tap your feet – display interest in the music.
· Stand up. At Mill Valley, congregate near the entrance.
· Ask for a dance. How many leaders are going to say “No”?
The Presidio Yacht Club’s website is blank – I’ve no way of finding out about the bands, short of driving down and looking at the circulars. If you know of any danceable bands playing there, please report.
I’m frustrated that Local Edition and Café Claude in San Francisco have been lax on updating the web page (I had to phone for info).
September 18, 2018
Wayne’s Window is averaging around 100 dances a week, located in the North Bay and beyond – enjoy. I’m off on a scuba trip; Chris will manage www.wayneswindow.com while I’m away. Always go there for the most current info and updates. No email newsletter next week.
Corte Madera Community Center was hopping last Wednesday to the sounds of the Ray Simpson Band. No one in the crowd of easily 40 complained of the concrete floor or diminished free treats. The playlist heavily favored East Coast Swing. The crowd prevented an outside lane on the perimeter for those who wanted to travel to the Foxtrot, relegating them to join in with Swing. Latin numbers were minimal, nor was any Salsa or Night Club 2-Step played. One Waltz and American Tango was performed. The tablecloth setting was inviting; plus pitchers of water were on each table with cups. Management is looking into canned music for the band’s break.
New to Wayne’s Window venues is Café Claude in San Francisco, up from Union Square – if you can’t find street parking, try Stockton-Sutter Garage. I have been told it has expanded with a dance floor, and I like the groups they have signed. If you go – let me know what you think.
I dropped by Dance Arts Friday for the Salsa lesson and dance. It was a well-attended. Fredi and Nicole pushed the talent of the dancers (which is good) with the lesson. Afterward Fredi DJ’d and danced with as many as he could.
It appears Sundown Blues in San Francisco has been discontinued, but Blues dancing can still be found in Berkeley on Wednesdays at The Beat. Also, though Mission City Swing (San Francisco) bills itself as a West Coast Swing event, I’m told the dance style is closer to Blues dancing. Both are on Wednesday nights. Shades of Blue has renamed to Shades of San Francisco (Mondays). Usually Blues dancing is featured, but select evenings may be Fusion, Hip-Hop, or West Coast Swing.
The Napa Tuesday Dance appears to have vaporized – I find no mention on the Internet and my calls have not been returned. It’s a shame since it was a rare venue that had live music on a Tuesday.
September 11, 2018
I’ve been laid up with a bad back, but with hopes to be on the dance floor mid-week, which prevented me from gathering any news. Chris hopes to be dancing soon, wrist surgery healing nicely.
September 4, 2018
Friday, Sweet City Blues played Red Brick (previously named Graffiti) on a raised stage. Most of the music was variations of Swing, with an occasional Cha Cha. The smooth concrete dance floor allowed for up to 10 couples crammed in, but was more comfortable with 4. That night’s crowd was a bit more talented than I see in similar settings. We were quite pleased with our dinners – can’t say the same about the service. Typical Friday traffic: 1 hour from San Rafael to Petaluma (25 minutes coming back).
In the rumor mill: Arthur Murray is creating a studio in West End San Rafael. Should be up and dancing by October – maybe sooner.
Fairfax’s 19 Broadway has whittled down its entertainment calendar after Sept. 9th. Do consider the 19 Broadway Goodtime Band (Sept. 9) for easy listening plus get in a few dances in a wonderful atmosphere.
Dance Arts webpage has yet been updated for Tuesday’s WnY West Coast Swing lessons and practice; only Thursday’s East Coast Swing is mentioned (no practice after).
I can’t list all the Argentine Tango in the area. My list is spotty, for full listings go to:
A week from Wednesday, the Marin County ballroom bands return:
Sept. 12: Ray Simpson Band at Corte Madera Community Center
Sept. 18: Starduster Orchestra at Mill Valley Community Center
Sept. 30: People of Note at Margaret Todd Center
… during the Summer break, Manny Gutierrez Quartet never took a break from the B Street Ballroom, always playing the last Sunday of the month. BTW: they’ll have a special 1920s dance party on Sept. 30th
August 28, 2018
Sonoma Speakeasy has fantastic music (at least the night we showed up) with hideaway ambiance. Difficult to find, it hides in a small alley off a larger alley off Sonoma Square. Order beer and wine from the unique backlit menu – prices are competitive (and no cover charge). Inside seating reaches a tight 50 with more room on benches outside. Somehow, six musicians fit on the raised stage, including a piano, plus a singer. Dancing is encouraged on the wood floor. So what are the minuses? Even commute traffic slowed the trip from San Rafael only to 40 minutes (25 minutes on the way back). The BIG MINUS is … the dance floor space. Only two couples could dance – three if they are friendly. Starting half an hour late, The Acrosonics, played exhaustingly long sets of Jazz and Swing. Give Sonoma Speakeasy a try. Hint: We preferred the stool seating against the wall.
After six years mentioned in Wayne’s Window, I have been overdue making a visit to Just Dance. My excuse was the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge traffic debacle. With a third lane open, my trip from San Rafael to southern Oakland was 45 minutes – in commute traffic. Just Dance exceeded my expectations. High ceiling, airy, two dance studios, ample free parking, studio-quality wood floor, table seating available, and more. I arrived for the Thursday Night lesson plus dance. $8 got me in. The Cha Cha lesson quickly elevated to silver. Most were able to grasp it, while I faked a few of the steps. The main floor easily accommodated 60 experienced dancers. Like Allegro, it projected on a screen a timer that counts down the current dance and posts the next two dances. The all-encompassing variety ranged from Quickstep to Bachata to Chinese Tango - no Mambo, but everything else. Refreshments are sparse; a few dancers brought in snacks and beverages. I met a couple who drove in from Yuba City, which says to me that our shorter drive necessitates a visit.
Friday, Dance Arts invited Mark Novak to teach American Waltz. The students were of varying skill levels, yet he managed to meet everyone’s needs. What we like about Mark, besides being a darn good teacher with great sense of humor, is his constant dancing with all the women until closing.
One of our favorite bands, 7th Sons, played at the Lighthouse Bar and Grille Saturday. This means “dinner and dance” to us. Good news – the chairs have been replaced! My fish and chips were some of the best I’ve had. On the downside, table service was lacking at times and the dance floor again had sticky spots. The band has a new guitarist. I’m not sure what the reason, but they were flat during the two sets we attended. We left mid-set, as I found myself protecting my partner from collision, no longer enjoying the dance. I’m told that shortly after leaving, the freestylers took over the floor.
Sunday, B Street Ballroom (aka San Rafael Community Center) held its monthly afternoon dance party with Manny Gutierrez Quartet playing his usual. The music was a vast array: Foxtrot, NC 2-Step, Tango, Polka, Rumba, etc. The refreshments and snacks could qualify as lunch. This older crowd tended to gravitate away from the stage and crowd toward the tables, making traveling dances difficult. You get a lot for $10. Parking is free and plentiful. Next month will be a big to-do; ’20s attire will be appreciated, but not required.
The Terrace Room will soon be requiring a two-drink minimum on Thursday and Friday nights. It doesn’t have to be booze, but dancers take note. Actually, take a few extra ten-notes out of your wallet and show you appreciate the music and dance floor.
Attention tangueros, California Ballroom’s (Santa Rosa) Sunday Tea & Tango Practicá (Sept. 9) has an abundance of tangueras, to the point that men get in at half price.
August 21, 2018
Other matters have kept me away from the dance floor. I hope to return this coming week. The only field report was that Pride & Joy kicked butt at Sausalito Seahorse last Friday. It is a favorite venue: free parking, good dinners, beer & wine, band is on a raised stage, and few seem to mind the brick dance floor. Please keep those field reports coming in. Also, please keep me posted on your favorite venues.
August 14, 2018
Saturday we dropped by Sausalito Seahorse to check out the 6-piece Marinfidels. They lost points with me by a half-hour late start. They made up for it with some dynamite sounds of the ’70s rock. Regrettably, not much was offered that we could dance to, but the free-stylers were happy to fill the brick dance floor. So delighted by the music, we would have stayed, but we had another stop.
I’d never heard of Harmonia, but knew of the location as being once a legendary recording studio hidden near the Sausalito Bay Model. Nor had I seen Roberta Donnay and the Prohibition Mob Band. The 6-piece band played Swing and Blues music of the ’20s and ’30s. The wood dance floor was adequate in size for up to 10 couples. Keep an eye out for this singer and venue.
“New kids in town,” or at least new venues to Wayne’s Window. We welcome the Sonoma Speakeasy in the town of Sonoma, POST Wellness in Petaluma, and Kelly Cassanova moved the West Coast Swing dance and lessons from Flamingo Lounge to Ellington Hall (Santa Rosa).
Welcome back San Geronimo Golf Club and Coppola Winery up in Geyserville. Remember Rossi’s 1906 in Sonoma? It is now The Reel Fish Shop and Grill –with live music.
August 7, 2018
Comcast and Microsoft continue to torpedo my email newsletter. I keep hoping a solution can be found shortly.
The latest news, is Allegro is building a new place in Richmond. I just forwarded you the press release. No opening date announced, I gather it will be quite a while.
One of the friends to Wayne’s Window reports a wonderful time at Nick’s Rockaway in Pacifica, that is until the band’s second set and all the freestylers were lubricated up enough to make fools of themselves as they took over the dance floor. Folks, I remind you, that unless it is a dance studio event, you must hit the floor as soon as the music starts before “the others,” drink in hand, take to the floor.
As much as we poke fun at “the others,” I must give the devil his due. Typically we hold back on our adult beverages to dance – they don’t, and it is their money that is paying for the music. I am seeing too many tight wallets. Please buy a meal, have more than one drink (it doesn’t have to be alcohol), and for Pete’s sake – tip the band at least $5 a piece.
Back to Nick’s … it is a lovely drive (45 minutes from San Rafael), ocean view, free parking, separate restaurant, full bar, good sized dance floor (20 couples?), and stage for the band. The FREE live music is usually every Friday and Saturday, with occasional additional days. Most of the music fits West & East Coast Swing and Latin, maybe a Night Club 2-Step – don’t expect Foxtrot (unless you are early to the floor) or Waltz. Make a plan to go soon.
A reader’s field report states San Francisco Polish Club - Mission City Swing is more Blues dancing than their website published West Coast Swing.