GOINGS ON : Dancers in for Swinging Weekend : The four-day festival in Santa Barbara will offer lessons in the Shag, Lindy Hop, Big Apple and others.

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Cutting the rug. Tripping the light fantastic. Boogie, oogie, oogieing.

There will be a lot of that stuff going on at the four-day 1994 International Swing Dance Festival beginning tonight at Santa Barbara's Carrillo Recreation Center.

The festival, sponsored by the Upbeat Swing Club and the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance, will include beginning and advanced lessons in tap, the Shag, the Lindy Hop, the Big Apple and the Black Bottom. Instruction begins tonight at 8 and will continue each morning and afternoon through Sunday. Dances will be held each evening.

On Saturday there will be a Savoy Big Band Bash and Variety Show. The big band portion will be courtesy of Chester Whitmore and his 12-piece orchestra. Whitmore, a comedian and tap dancer, will also be featured in the variety show, along with Tony Award winner Frank Manning, Fayard Nicolas of the Nicolas Brothers tap team, the Rhythm Hot Shots professional Swedish dance company and Betty Wood, who introduced the Big Apple in 1937.

Cost is $150 for a festival pass, or $25 (for tonight only), $55 (Friday), $60 (Saturday), and $45 (Sunday). Saturday's party is also open to the public for $20, with tickets available at the door. It will go from 7 p.m. to midnight.

For more information on class and party times and registration, call 687-6407. The recreation center is at 100 E. Carrillo St.

Guest conductor Gisele Ben-Dor, music director of the Boston Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra and the Annapolis Symphony, will lead the Santa Barbara Symphony in concert Saturday and Sunday at the Arlington Theatre.

The program will include "The Chairman Dances" from John Adams' opera "Nixon in China," Khatchaturian's "Violin Concerto" (performed by Christophe Boulier), and Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 5." The concerts will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $10 to $32. Call 963-4408. The Arlington is at 1317 State St.

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Country music star Patti Loveless will bring her show to Santa Barbara when she takes the Arlington Theatre stage Friday evening. Pop-country group Restless Heart will open the concert, beginning at 8 p.m. Admission is $23.50 (floor level) and $20.50 (balcony). Call 963-9589.

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Few people can remember the last time they had a good 18th-Century meal. But the next time? Maybe Saturday, when the catering staff of the Four Seasons Biltmore will serve up old Spanish-Mexican cuisine at a fund-raising dinner for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

The party, to be held at the Santa Barbara Presidio, will include a theatrical presentation depicting the return of two former presidio leaders, and music by the Nicoletti String Quartet. Plans for continued reconstruction of the presidio will be unveiled at the party. Cocktails will begin at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $125 per person. Call 965-0093. The presidio is at 123 E. Canon Perdido.

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A quartet from the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival will perform at UCSB's Campbell Hall, Wednesday, helping to kick off the university's "3rd Annual New Music Festival--New Directions in Asian-American Music."

The concert will include Beethoven's "Serenade in D Major for Strings, Opus 8;" Dvorak's "Quartet in E-flat Major for Piano and Strings, Opus 87," and "Four Movements for Piano Trio" by China's Bright Sheng, the music festival's composer-in-residence. Sheng combines Asian classical and folk music with Western classical compositions in his work. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. General admission is $18, $15 and $12. Call 893-3535.

Other festival activities: Performances by the UCSB Indian Ensemble (Wednesday, noon at the Music Bowl, free), the UCSB Gamelan Ensemble (April 22, 3 p.m., Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall, $5), the Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko Drum Ensemble (April 23, 1 p.m., Music Bowl, free), and Amatak--Cambodian Folk Music Ensemble (April 23, 3 p.m., Lehmann Hall, $5). There will be evening concerts with various performers (April 21-23, 8 p.m., Lehmann Hall, $10) and Meet the Composer panels (April 21 and 22, 10 a.m. Geiringer Hall, free.)

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Theater openings: Mark Elk Baum and Tom Sespe will present "Taken By the Faeries," a musical-storytelling production that looks at the insights of gay men who have dealt with AIDS. The show will play at three venues--the UCSB College of Creative Studies (tonight and Friday), the Dance Warehouse at 1018 De La Vina St. (April 22-24), and the Contemporary Arts Forum on the second level of the Paseo Nuevo shopping center at Chapala and De La Guerra streets (April 28-30). All performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 to $10 on a sliding scale. Call 687-8946.

And "Equus," the dark story about the blinding of six horses by a stable boy obsessed with Equus, the horse god, will run tonight through April 30 at Santa Barbara's Center Stage Theater. Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. Admission is $18.75 (general), $15.75 (seniors). Call 963-0408. The theater is located on the second level of the Paseo Nuevo shopping center.

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