The Scene: A benefit encore performance of...

The Scene: A benefit encore performance of “Laundromatinee” by Collage Dance Theatre. Originally performed last December, the dancers again took over the Thrifty Wash in Santa Monica to raise money for a matching grant from the National/State/County Partnership funding agency. Guests pulled into the strip shopping center, left their cars with the valet, picked up a program (folded in an empty mini-detergent box) and entered the antiseptic world of Thrifty Wash with its harvest gold and tomato red decor. Some mistakenly went to the Brite-Wash across the street, only to find people simply doing their laundry.

The Buzz: Those who had never seen “Laundromatinee” before were very pleasantly surprised by the dancers’ work. “They made such great use of the space!” one woman squealed. Another guest gave it higher marks than the American Ballet Theatre’s current production of “Swan Lake.” But then, ABT didn’t have the added advantage of spin-dry.

Who was there: Dancers Debi Albeyta Cindy Clarke, September Gaw, Eimi Guirao, Betsy Howard, Vanessa Vandergriff and artistic director/choreographer Heidi Duckler; Tina and Steve Silberman; Richard and Sandy Mallory; Abby Sher; Roland Wiley; Susan and Michael Lushing, Eric Rosenfeld; Gil and Shari Escobedo; Greg Goyeneche; Hali Paul and Howard Brock and musician Randy Gornel, who six years ago did a Las Vegas lounge act/performance art piece at the Thrifty Wash and the Brite-Wash. Life, like the wash, works in cycles.

Dress mode: Eclectic. Many tall male and female yuppies zipped over from work in their BMWs, dressed in suits and horn-rimmed glasses; one woman opted for black gloves with her strapless dress and others wore jeans.


The food: Donated by Trader Joe’s, it included Brie, fresh fruit, crackers and wine, set on platters atop the washers. One pesticide-conscious woman was horrified to find bunches of grapes among the fruit. “They can’t serve those grapes!” she cried. “People will have mutant babies if they eat those grapes!”

Quoted: “We spent six weeks rehearsing here while people did their laundry,” Duckler said. “Some people were just really incensed. And we felt bad that the owner was losing money so we all brought our wash here.”

Triumphs: Overwhelmingly favorable reviews from the audience, who never expected to have so much fun and actually be exposed to culture in a Laundromat.

Glitches: With no real seats, shorter guests found it difficult to see the performance, especially with all those tall yuppies in the way.

Sentimental Journey: Laundromat owner Stan Fox was presented with a collage of photos and reviews, signed by the dancers. “When they called and asked if they could do the performance here originally, I couldn’t say no,” he said. “I said OK, as long as it doesn’t disrupt the business. And it disrupted the business. I thought, ‘What’d I do this for?’ But I got to like ‘em so much. And the show was a big hit. They worked really hard, trying different things, going in the dryers, in the washing machines. I thought that was the last I’d see of them, but I was delighted when they called me again. I really missed ‘em while they were gone.”