Doing Tennessee Two-Step With California Charm

Hollywood glamour and showmanship go a long way--even in Nashville.

At the Black Velvet Smooth Steppin’ Showdown in Nashville, Tenn., both first and second prize in the national two-step dancing contest went to California couples.

Westside residents Armando Abarca and Christine Ionnone won the Monday contest’s grand prize: two enormous silver belt buckles and a guest appearance on country-Western singer Tanya Tucker’s newest video. Second prize went to Ed Applegate and Tina Bright of Orange County.

Abarca, 30, and Ionnone, 27, met two years ago at Denim & Diamonds nightclub in Santa Monica, where they hone their two-steppin’ skills. They began dancing together, but to Ionnone’s dismay, Abarca seemed to have two left feet. And so the lessons began, love blossomed and within a year, the pair bloomed into the hottest amateur country-Western dance couple west of the Mississippi.


But the question remains: How in the world did the surfing state sweep the top two places? Where were the Texans? The Oklahomans? The Tennesseans?

Abarca and Ionnone attribute their victory to good old-fashioned Hollywood charm. The couple broke up a few months ago. But in the best tinsel-town tradition, they didn’t let that stop the show.

Said Abarca: “I looked at Christine and said, ‘Let’s just smile, play up to the camera and the audience and gaze at each other as if we were still in love.’ ”



DEBATE POINTS: U.S. Rep. Anthony Beilenson(D-Woodland Hills) has jokingly predicted that there will be so many debates between him and his GOP challenger, attorney and public policy wonk Richard Sybert, that voters will be “sick” of the pair before Election Day.

Last month, Sybert wrote Beilenson urging him to participate in 10 debates, each on a separate topic. He also took a swipe at the “town hall meetings” Beilenson has been holding with constituents in various parts of the 24th Congressional District, which includes Malibu.

“These are nothing more than thinly disguised campaign events on the public’s nickel,” Sybert wrote.

Despite Sybert’s sometimes angry tone, Beilenson’s reply was low-key; he pledged that there will be debates but indicated they could only be held in the last three weeks of the campaign season.


Before then, Beilenson told Sybert, the congressman would attend to the public’s business. “Every year Congress’ busiest time is the last two months of the session, and that will be especially true this year,” he wrote. “Obviously, the only way I can properly represent my constituents . . . is to be in Washington.”

Sybert fired back that if Beilenson has time to fly back to Los Angeles each weekend and hold regular town hall meetings then he has time for debates.