Dick Dale Plays at the Rendevous Ballroom
Dick Dale Plays at the Rendevous Ballroom

Throwback: Balboa. The Historic Fun Town.

Balboa has been known to be the center of entertainment for the better part of a century. Built on a fishing and shipping industry, this beautiful spot gave the start to some of the worlds most famous personalities– even including the Righteous Brothers, and Dick Dale, pictured here.  Heck, all the way back to the 1930s we were even inventing international dance crazes such as “The Balboa” and the “Bal Swing”.

Both of these dances were invented in the historic Rendezvous Ballroom.  This ballroom was burned to the ground not once– but twice.  Both times by someone leaving a cigarette in a couch.  Some people claim it was intentional and for the insurance money, some people say that gadflying fun-haters on Balboa Peninsula decided to take matters in to their own hands.   However, the official record maintains that this was an accident.  Twice.

Do you remember the Rendezvous Ballroom?

Here are some photos of the beautiful building in the perfect location:

Rendezvous Ballroom Burnt RendezvousBallroom2 Rendezvous rendevousballroom3

Much more information can be found here: http://www.100megspopup.com/ark/RendezvousBallroom1941.html

Information below is from the site mentioned above:

The block long “Rendezvous” made it’s debut on 24 March 1928 between Palm and Washington streets, bordered by a huge paved parking lot on the ocean front beach at Balboa, California. The 12,000-square-foot dance floor could easily accomodate over 1,500 couples with a 64 foot soda fountain on the ground floor along with dozens of couches and a smaller soda fountain above on the mezzanine and balcony surrounding the dance floor along with 50 more couches.

Newport-Balboa Harbor
Rendezvous Ballroom & Parking Lot
(center foreground)
When the $200,000 ballroom went up in flames on 27 January 1935, another even bigger and better “Rendezvous” was built on the site in less than 3 months – and because of the then depression economy, at a fraction of the cost of the first.

“Bal Week”
In the early 1930’s thousands of teenagers began flocking to Balboa from all over Southern California during Easter vacation to begin an endless cycle of spending the days at the beach, the nights until 1:00 a.m. dancing to the Big Bands at the Rendezvous Ballroom and partying until dawn at hundreds of overcrowded rental apartments and rooms throughout the Balboa and Newport Beach area.
By the late 1930’s, the Rendezvous Ballroom became a major West Coast stop for the touring Big Bands with the performances of Harry James, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnete, Les Brown and more accompanied by the famous vocalists of the era regularly broadcast by radio nationwide. By 1938 the ballroom was dubbed the “Queen of Swing” by Look Magazine.

The Swing Also Known As Jitterbug Dance Steps
“Rendezvous Swingeree” – 1938
To celebrate the end of the school year, KEHE disc jockey Al Poska organized this non-stop 7 day around the clock Big Band dance marathon at the Rendezvous Ballroom, officially due to commence at 6:00 a.m. on 18 June 1938. However, Poska (in the white jacket) actually opened the event at 5:30 a.m. with an eye popping performance by “jitterbug” dancers Roy Damron and Choppy Seed on the sidewalk in front of the ballroom entrance.
Then 17 Year Old Maxie Dorf
Later To Become Known As The King of “The Balboa”
Birthplace Of “The Balboa”
The “Balboa” or “Bal” originated at the Rendezvous Ballroom, and quickly spread in popularity. The “Balboa Shuffle” is most useful when an extremely slow number is played and the “Balboa Hop” is utilized when the beat is too fast for any other dance. Either of “The Balboa” steps can be done when the dance floor is too crowded for Swing dancing.The “Balboa” is a complete and versatile dance most often seen today where swing, jazz or Dixieland music is being played. It can be performed to exceedingly slow music (30 beats per minute), extraordinarily fast music (over 300 beats per minute), or anywhere in between.

Stan Kenton
In February of 1941, a relatively unknown bandleader by the name of Stan Kenton auditioned his orchestra at the “Rendezvous”. Although the band had only been together for a few months, they were able to convince the owners to give them a summer booking. They opened on the night of May 30, 1941 and the rest is history.
Maxi Dorf USN – 1942
The “Rendezvous” – 1952
(Beyond The Gift Shop)
In the early morning hours of 7 August 1966, the Rendezvous Ballroom burned to the ground and an apartment complex was later built at the location.
But Never To Be Forgotten
On May 30, 1991, fans from all over the world gathered at the Hyatt Newporter Resort in Newport Beach, California to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stan Kenton’s debut at the famed ballroom, to pay homage to both the “Rendezvous” and one of the most influential figures in jazz – and, of course, to dance “The Balboa”.



About Mike Glenn

Mike is the founder and publisher of Save Newport and Chair of Government Relations for the Elks Lodge. He writes, shoots photos, and edits, but much of the time, he's just "the IT guy". He can be reached at: Google+, Facebook, or via email, at michael.glenn@devion.com