Advertisement

Doin’ the Boogie in a Time Warp

Share
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Just off the Ventura Freeway, next to the Agoura Hills Target Range, is the cavernous Canyon Supper Club. This is a place where time stands still, which has nothing to do with the traffic through the Conejo Valley. A giant clock tower atop the club says it’s always 7:28.

Once upon a time, the city of Agoura was just a Whizzin’s Restaurant (now a Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill). That site has since sprouted into a large, pseudo-rustic shopping center with parking for 600 and a cement pond under a covered walkway where bored koi barely move. Formerly Whizzin’s Market, the Canyon Club is a newly minted big-time venue, offering fine dining as well as classic rock, dance bands, big band music from the masters and community theater on weekends with “The Sound of Music” playing matinees this month.

Everything about this 999-capacity place is big, like the giant statue of Buddha that sits just inside the door, the pair of 100-foot bars on each side of the room, and the Canyon Club Private Reserve VIP area in the back. Small lamps adorn each table and thick Turkish rugs cover the floor. The decor is a combination of East Asian, Middle Eastern and South Conejo Valley kitsch. Or, as owner Lance Sterling says, “You figure it out.”

Advertisement

There’s a large hardwood dance floor in front of the stage and a reported $500,000 sound system. On a recent Friday night before the band began, the DJ was using only a few hundred bucks of power, as patrons in the club could actually converse without screaming at one another.

Meanwhile, it’s 7:28 in 1978 tonight and every Thursday night when the original Boogie Knights bring back all those disco ditties, not to mention all those bad clothes. Who would want that? As it turns out, lots of people.

Dave Hewitt, the man who books the bands, knows what to expect. “The Canyon Club will be catering to the 30-and-above crowd. Let’s face it, Agoura, Thousand Oaks, Westlake and Malibu are all fairly affluent areas. It’s going to be the same energy we used to have at Pelican’s Retreat back in 1993.”

*

He was right. The sound of Muzak definitely worked, as around 900 people showed for the return of the Boogie Knights on Feb. 2. The place was so packed, it would’ve taken a shoehorn to squeeze John Travolta into the joint.

Even when it’s not disco night, the time gets so warped here that not even Bob Vila could fix it. For example, on Saturday night Eddie Money will make the short drive from nearby Ventura County. Expect time-warp tunes in the future from the likes of the Doobie Brothers, the Tubes, Berlin and Loverboy.

But the amazing thing about the Canyon Club is the midweek activity. Everyone knows that clubs earn the rent on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. But Tuesday morning is when the Canyon Club swings. Literally.

Advertisement

The Alumni Association is a 19-piece band composed of guys who actually played with Woody Herman and Glenn Miller and other big bands. These are the guys that today’s swingers emulate. According to conductor Randy Van Horne, the musicians “are between 70 and dead.” They’ve been at the club for just over two months, playing for fun at a 10 a.m. Tuesday morning practice, when the venue supplies coffee and bagels. The veterans jam, their fans dance, and afterward everyone mingles and tells tales of the good ol’ days. On Wednesday nights, there’s a regular show when the band dresses up and several hundred dancers show up to bust a move or invent some new ones.

Tom Smart, the band’s publicist, observed, “It’s pretty remarkable. We had 160 people there on a recent Tuesday morning at the rehearsal even though the band doesn’t need to rehearse. On Wednesdays, we have all these young dancers that come from miles around and they do all the different kind of dances to the big band sound. They’re just cuter than hell. Alongside of them will be someone in their 60s or 70s, and the kids are looking at their steps saying, ‘How do they do that?’ It really is multigenerational.”

Festivities begin at 7:28 sharp.

*

* The Canyon Supper Club, 28912 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills. Fri., the Boogie Knights; Sat., Platinum Groove plays dance music; Sat., Eddie Money. Tues. 10 a.m. and Wed. evening, the Alumni Association big band. Cover varies. (818) 879-5016.

Advertisement