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Millennium Ball 2000 lands at the Glendale Civic

Paul Andersen

If anyone could throw a ball in Glendale, the man you would want to do

it would be Gene DeWald.

And no, we’re not talking about baseballs or footballs. The ball we’re


referring to is the kind where Cinderella found her prince.

For more than a quarter century, beginning in 1954, DeWald was the man

to see if you wanted to learn the art of ballroom dancing in Glendale or

Pasadena. One of the country’s leading practitioners of the art form,


during that time he taught thousands of couples the finer points of the

fox trot, waltz, swing, mambo and numerous other dances that make up the

ballroom slate, using the Glendale Civic Auditorium as his classroom.

Since he retired in the mid-'80s, the city’s Parks and Recreation

Department has often called him back to teach. In fact, he recently

finished a series of classes at his old haunt.

“It seems that no one knows how to teach ballroom dancing the right

way anymore,” says the master dancer. “They’re just teaching steps, the


mechanics. They leave out the dignity and the enjoyment of it.”

DeWald is counting on that dignity and enjoyment, along with elegance,

entertainment, gourmet dining and the chance to dance the night away to

draw revelers as he ushers in the new year with the Millennium 2000 Ball,

taking place at the Glendale Civic Auditorium on New Year’s Eve beginning

at 8 p.m.

The recent swing revival in pop music, and the fact that ballroom

dancing is part of the curriculum at many colleges, should also help


draw some of the younger crowd.

“It’ll be the largest New Year’s Eve dance ever held at the

auditorium,” he says proudly. “And people will be getting quite a

bargain, considering what lots of other places are charging for this

once-in-a-lifetime evening.”

The ball, priced at $150 in advance and $200 at the door, features an

hour of hors d’oeuvres, a gourmet dinner with wine, dessert, a champagne

toast at midnight and a wide array of entertainment besides dancing.

Among the featured performers are Paul Ruben and his Illusions of

Magic comedians Michael Haywood Norris and Noelle North, pianist Mark

Mercury, magician Larry “The Great Kasini” Krasny, who will stroll from

table to table doing feats of close-up magic, and, just added, America’s

premier tango team, Felix Chavez and Marilyn, who will perform an

exhibition of this exotic dance.

Lou Dokken and his 13-piece orchestra will provide a wide variety of

musical styles for couples to dance to, from samba to swing to waltz and

everything in between.

“We will also have a sing-along to the old songs, and other

surprises,” DeWald says. “There will be stick jugglers as people arrive,

and everyone will have a full color 8 x 10 photograph taken. And,” he

adds, “because we are only serving wine with dinner and the toast at

midnight, it won’t turn into a drunken bash.”

In fact, the black-tie optional affair will end at 1 a.m. to ensure a

safe commute home.

“People shouldn’t be afraid to attend,” he adds. “After all, there

will probably be a bigger police presence on the streets than we’ve ever

seen before. And with the cost of driving drunk these days, well, we just

want everyone to leave with a happy heart.”

Besides, DeWald wants people to come back. He has already booked the

Civic for Millennium Ball 2001.

If You Go:

WHAT: Gene DeWald’s Millennium 2000 Ball.

WHEN: New Year’s Eve, Friday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

WHERE: Glendale Civic Auditorium, 1401 N. Verdugo Road.

DRESS: Black-tie optional.

TICKETS: $150 per person in advance; $200 at the door.