Sundays Here Are Strictly Ballroom

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* Big Band at the West Coast Club

* In the Waterfront Hilton, 21100 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach.

* (714) 960-7873.

* Sundays only, 6 to 10 p.m.

* Cover: $3.

The mellow grooves of reggae invading almost every club on Sundays might be a perfect way to wind down the weekend, but for some it lacks the kick needed to jump-start the week. For this crowd it’s strictly ballroom on the seventh day--swing, cha-chas, even hot tangos--as offered at the West Coast Club in the Waterfront Hilton, Huntington Beach.

So what if the average age of these Big Band fans is almost triple that of reggae lovers seen frequenting the local clubs? For many, this is their second stop of the day. Like the afternoon soiree at the Red Lion Hotel in Costa Mesa, the Waterfront gig is hosted by Elda Barry, former Mrs. Senior America and, to regulars, a lady who knows how to party. Barry has been organizing both events for the last three years, encouraging seniors--especially single ones--to spend their Sundays dancing to American classics.

The live orchestra of the Red Lion is missing here, an element that Barry has been trying to persuade the Hilton to add to the program. But that doesn’t seem to bother many of the patrons, some of whom say they even prefer the recorded originals offered nonstop by deejay Cameron Hollis, who spins the likes of Benny Goodman, Prez Prado and plenty of Frank Sinatra throughout the set, including the latter’s duet with U2’s Bono.


The first hour features ballroom dance lessons by Joe Duran, who specializes in patience as well as Latin dances. He can work with several couples of various skills at once and is available for tips long after class is over. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn to really dance--for the low cover price of $3--even if you think you’re too young for this scene. Ballroom dancing, after all, only gets better and more fun with age.

And if you’ve got two left feet, you can enjoy just watching the regulars. The evening gig at the Hilton draws considerably fewer folks than you’ll find at the Red Lion, but that also means there’s more room here to strut your stuff--which patrons take full advantage of.

Champagne, at $2 a glass, gets poured often. There are also well drinks and wine at $4 a glass and frozen cocktails for $5. Domestic beer is $2.75 for draft, $3.25 a bottle; imports are $3.75 bottle.