Remember how easy and fun it was to go out dancing during those days when you were first dating? A leisurely dinner was followed by hours on the dance floor. Chances are that life has intervened since then. Now that the kids have come along, the hassle of finding and paying a baby-sitter has made those romantic outings as rare as breakfast in bed.
One solution is to take the kids with you. There are several places in Ventura County where you can dance and interact as a family. You'll probably get the most bang for your buck at Family Night, from 4 to 10 p.m. Sundays, at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.
The $5-per-person cover charge at Borderline includes admission, free access to an all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet and dance lessons at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. The cost of beverages is not included, but even so, this family night on the town is a bargain.
A recent family night inside the club looked like a country cotillion as 14 couples of all shapes and sizes spun counter-clockwise around the dance floor. The deejay-instructor Rick Borja shouted out, "Quick, quick, slow, slow," and reviewed rules of dance-floor etiquette.
"We're here every Sunday night with all five kids," said Mark Lindauer, a resident of Oak Park.
"Even if we don't want to come, they'd drag us," added Lindauer's wife, Amy. "We were even here on Mother's Day and Father's Day."
The couple has been bringing the brood, ages 4 to 13, since October.
"I like how there is stuff to do even if you don't like dancing," said 13-year-old Ashley Lindauer. "Sometimes my friends come along to play the pinball machines or use the pool tables."
Meanwhile Borja invites a 19-year-old patron to help him demonstrate basic moves to the assembled crowd. "We always start with a beginning two-step or swing lesson so that everybody--old and young--interacts together," he said.
Dancers are back-lit by daylight streaming in the wall of windows overlooking the Ventura Freeway. The well-ventilated room feels more like a community recreation center than a bar.
Jeff Luxenberger, 12, squires his mom, Jana around the floor while executing two-step tucks and turns. This is a rare display indeed: a preteen boy who is not mortified to be seen dancing with his mother, let alone be seen out socially with his parents.
Then Pete, the dad, and 10-year-old Kyle join them for the Water Melon Crawl line dance.
"We like country music but we weren't dancers. We heard about family night but we knew it was a bar situation so we wanted to check it out first," said Jana.
They have been coming from Simi Valley almost every Sunday for about a year, said Pete Luxenberger.
By 6:45 p.m. about half of the 200 patrons are on the dance floor doing Simon-says-type gestures to "La Macarena," a dance to a tune of the same title that spread from Mexico north through the dance clubs.
"With summer vacation and school being out, we close the place," said Mark Lindauer.
"And it's good exercise," said Amy Lindauer. "It's nice too because we've met other adults. And we see a lot of single parents in here with their kids."
"Yeah, but we see 'em usually every two weeks," said Mark. "You can tell when it's their weekend with the kids."
* WHAT: Family Dance Night.
* WHERE: Borderline Bar & Grill, 99 Rolling Oaks Drive, Thousand Oaks.
* WHEN: 4-10 p.m. Sundays.
* HOW MUCH: $5 per person includes buffet but not beverages. Kids 4 and younger admitted free.
* CALL: 446-4435.
* FYI: Dance lessons hourly, 5-7 p.m. At 8 p.m. kids can compete for prizes in dance-floor rodeo games.
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Here are other venues in the county where families can dance with their kids. In addition to clubs, Learning Tree University in Thousand Oaks (497-2292) and most park and recreation districts regularly offer a variety of country line and partner dance classes that often welcome children and teens.
Western Country Club Dance & Recreation Night (Boyd Community Center, 510 Park Road, Ojai, 646-1872) Tonight's family-oriented event will feature a taco salad dinner at 6 p.m., dance lessons at 7 and 8 p.m. with Cynthia Broaddus, music by deejay Debra Lee, and a full game room including billiards, air hockey and table tennis; 6-9 p.m.; admission for dancing and games is $3 per person in advance, $4 at the door; dinner is an additional $4.
Family Country-Western Dance (Borchard Community Center, 190 Reino Road, Newbury Park, 498-3124) On Saturday, the monthly smoke-and-alcohol-free event features line-dance instruction at 7 p.m. by Kathy Bailey; and Jimmy-O provides music until 11 p.m.; $5. (Also Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9 and Dec. 14 with different teachers and deejays).
Country Lovers Dances (American Legion Hall, 83 S. Palm St., Ventura, 647-1893) On Saturday, deejay-instructors Rick Henderson or Vince Fiske will provide lessons at 7 p.m. and music from 8 p.m. to midnight; open to the public including teens, age 12 and older; $6, $7 for nonmembers. (Also Aug. 10 and 31, Sept. 7, 21 and 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 2 and 16, Dec. 14).
California State Old-Time Fiddlers (Oak View Community Center, 18 Valley Road, Oak View, 486-8744) Free family entertainment, fiddle jam session and dancing 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. the second and fourth Sundays of each month; line dance instruction, 3 p.m.
Family Country-Western Dance (Camarillo Recreation Center, 1605 E. Burnley St., Camarillo, 482-1996) On July 20, instructors David and Esther Howells host this monthly smoke-and-alcohol-free dance, open to all ages; lessons at 7 p.m.; Rhythm Rangers play from 8 to 11 p.m.; $5; (Also Aug. 17).
Family Country Dance Night (Conejo Community Center, 1300 Hendrix Ave., Thousand Oaks, 495-2163) On Aug. 3, deejay-instructor Kathy Bailey teaches at 7 p.m. and provides music from 8 to 11 p.m.; $5; kids age 10 and under admitted free. (Also Sept. 7, Oct. 5 and Nov. 2).
Country Lovers Dance Club (Fellowship Hall of College United Methodist Church, 16 Baylor Drive, Ventura, 647-1893) Each Tuesday these weekly general meetings of the largest country dance club in the county begin at 7 p.m. with line and partner dance lessons for people who already know basic two-step footwork. The club also sponsors monthly public dances at the American Legion Hall in Ventura and teens are welcome. A $45 annual family membership includes a monthly newsletter.
Country Night (Splash Night Club in the Radisson Hotel, 999 Enchanted Way, Simi Valley, 583-2000) Teens, age 16 and older, are admitted to this weekly Tuesday dance night hosted by deejay-instructor, Rick Henderson, 6 p.m. to midnight. Dance lessons begin at 6:45 p.m. Cover is $5 for ages 16-21, $3 for adults. $1 gets you a steak and buffet dinner.
Country Dance Night (Skating Plus, 1720 Mesa Verde Ave., Ventura, 656-2120) This popular Wednesday night event will continue from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. through Aug. 28. Host David Graves teaches from 8:30 to 9:15 p.m. $5 per person, open to all ages.
Country Night (Alexander's, 1050 Schooner Drive, Ventura, 658-2000) Also each Wednesday night, kids age 12 and older may stay until 10 p.m. with parents; deejay-instructor Rick Henderson teaches at 7 p.m. and spins tunes until midnight; live bands play the last Wednesday of the month; Rhythm Rangers will perform July 31; no cover with deejay, $3 on band nights.