A Wayback Bash at Catalina’s Big-Band-y Ballroom

Swing the night away, near the Pacific, at The Avalon Ball.

Dave Welch

PUT ON A LITTLE CLASSIC BIG BAND, and whether or not you're instantly transported to the dance floor, a dance floor from several decades back, in a beautifully appointed ballroom, is up to your imagination. For you're probably listening to the big band classics in your car, or while cleaning the house, but you're likely not at the sort of space where the big bands used to break out the horns and hot lyrics. Such spaces do still exist, however, and some of them feel a little "out of time," meaning that they seem to have a foot in both the era in which they first came to be and our modern era, too. The surroundings have a lot to do with that feeling, and you couldn't find a more vintage, postcard-y place than Avalon. It's a charmer, through and through, and that the Catalina Island town is full of fabulous vintage structures on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on another, only ups the Casino Building's wayback, time-travel-tastic allure. And it is an allure that will be especially accentuated on...

SATURDAY, MAY 19: That's when the Avalon Ball dances back into the capacious, recently restored room, recalling the late '20s and '30s and all of the bands that played there. On the stage in 2018? Dean Mora & the Avalon Ball Dance Orchestra. On the guests? A lot of retro togs, the sort of clothes that pay handsome homage to the earliest days of the ballroom. Out on the balcony? Those sweeping views of the ocean, the kind of views that seem to have sprung fully formed from an old-fashioned, hand-painted postcard picture. The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles is behind this annual bash, one that is about dancing, hobnobbing, quaffing, memory-making, ocean-appreciating, and Avalon-reveling. For sure, listening to big band can lift the spirits anywhere, at any time, but in a room where the big bands once played? Call it transportive, but don't muse for too long; best get up and kick your heels, dance babies.

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