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Society : 'Swing Fling' Gives Boost to Symphony

October 23, 1986|LINK MATHEWSON

Dancers glided smoothly across the highly polished tiles at the "Swing Fling" sponsored by the South Coast Symphony Crescendos Sunday night in the Jewel Court of South Coast Plaza.

More than 200 music lovers listened and danced to the tunes of the '40s and '50s played by the Ed Leach Big Band and $12,000 was netted for the South Coast Symphony.

A "food faire" by eight participating restaurants encircled the dance floor.

Chairing the event was Virginia Buckles, who is also the head of the Crescendos, a 60-member support group for the symphony.

"We've come a long way in less than two years," Buckles said.

Agreeing with Buckles was the executive director, Judith Pedneault, and the president, Norman Broadhurst.

All three described the growth of the symphony as "incredible' since its relocation to the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.

"I have been asked if the Performing Arts Center hurt South Coast subscriptions," Pedneault said. "We have more people this year than ever before. We were nearly sold out at our first concert in September, and we are nearly sold out for our Nov. 23 pops concert at the Irvine Marriott."

"What we're doing," Broadhurst said, "is offering the public classical music at an affordable price. Not everyone can make a habit of going to the Performing Arts Center."

Music director/conductor Larry Granger, described by Pedneault as the "guiding force" of the symphony said: "Challenges are more fun when you are young and growing. We've met every hurdle and a few we didn't know were going to be there."

Honorary chairman Tex Beneke did more than just lend his name to the fund-raiser.

With Leach playing Beneke's original musical arrangements of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," "Kalamazoo" and "I Never Knew," Beneke's famous voice thrilled the audience.

Later on, Roberta Linn, Lawrence Welk's original "Champagne Lady," entertained.

The fun began when four secret celebrity "taxi dancers" danced with the guests.

Master of ceremonies John Greene explained the term and how it worked.

"In the old days, young ladies were hired by dance halls to dance. After you presented a ticket to the gal, she would dance with you. If you liked her, you could buy tickets and dance with her all night long.

Greene kidded, "Unfortunately, dances aren't a dime anymore. We need some folding money."

Lines formed quickly to dance with "taxi dancers" Miss Newport Beach (Martha Rugan in her tiara and banner), Harry Babbitt, Granger and Linn.

Babbitt, at one time a singer in Kay Kaiser's band, joined Linn in singing "Moonlight Bay."

Buckles led the crowd in a bunny-hop around the Jewel Court before the waltz contest ended the evening.

A four-day "Ski Celebration" beginning on Wednesday of last week at the Hotel Meridien in Newport Beach was the first of its kind in Orange County to help raise funds for the U.S. Ski Team.

Before the Friday night "Ski Ball" (a black-tie dinner, dance and auction), "apres-ski" activities were held on Wednesday and Thursday and open to "anyone interested in knowing about skiing."

The $10 admission fee included a drink, one-day lift tickets at participating ski areas, a viewing of resort videos, ski films and a presentation of the Calgary Olympics.

A brunch on Saturday morning, featuring ski fashions and a ski fitness demonstration, ended the celebration.

"The event was needed to increase public awareness of the financial need of the cost of year-round training for the U.S. team," said John Creel, chairman of the event, at the Friday night dinner. "The American government doesn't underwrite anything for the U.S. Ski Team."

Henri Patti, director of the team, whose headquarters is in Park City, Utah, explained future fund-raising plans.

"This is only the second event we have had this year," Patti said. "We have 21 special events like this across the country. We are excited to be here (in Newport Beach) because it is the first time a local group took the initiative to put something together."

Ruthelyn Plummer, Newport Beach mayor pro tem, welcomed the ski enthusiasts, athletes and television celebrities to the city and said, "Newport Beach might not be world famous as a sports center, but I do believe that we are very supportive of anything that moves."

The gourmet meal, combined with a live auction of ski-related items, was accompanied by Fetzer wines, the white wine appropriately called "Ski Chardonnay '86." The label depicted a downhill skier in a colorful reproduction of a painting created by Laguna Beach artist Hal Akins.

"We put this label on 10,000 cases of the wine which will be distributed nationally throughout the ski areas," said Jim Fetzer of Mendocino. He asked, "Did you know that skiers drank more wine" than any other athletes?

Akins, a Laguna Beach High School teacher and sports artist, created the artwork from a myriad of slides he received from the ski team's headquarters.

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