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Trying to Rustle Up Dance Enthusiasts : Clubs Pulling the Plug on Country Nights That Don't Bring in Big Enough Crowds


When I visit the clubs, folks are always asking me about new places to dance. And I keep saying: Try Nicholby's Upstairs Pool Hall and Night Club for boot scootin' in 1994.

On Wednesday nights, this Ventura club goes country all the way. Rick Henderson teaches and spins tunes for dancing on a spacious, newly refinished floor. The club occupies the entire second floor of a huge warehouse-like structure, so there's no danger of feeling claustrophobic.

If you don't dance, there are 10 pool tables to amuse you. And now, in addition to a great Italian coffee bar, Nicholby's serves spirits. Everyone who has visited the place agrees it has great potential. And they liked the airy atmosphere. So mosey on over Wednesday for a two-step and cappuccino.

But heads up, dance fans. Don't wait too long. Club owners have been pulling the plug on country nights if patrons don't quickly show their support. Regrettably, Nicholby's is no exception. Wednesday nights are going strong. But they've suspended the newly created country nights on Sundays. So don't expect to see Shiloh or any other band play Sunday as scheduled.

Another recent casualty occurred New Year's Eve, when David Graves taught line dance lessons for the last time at the Black Angus Restaurant in Ventura.

"Where are teen-agers supposed to go?" asked 17-year-old Amber Mahoney of Camarillo. "I'm already out of high school, but I can't drink. You can go to Golf 'N Stuff just so many times. And how many movies can you see? So where do they expect us to go if we're underage? It was fun dancing there with my friends on Wednesdays or the weekends."

Well, I'm no prophet--just an ordinary gal. But I see a trend developing. If dancers fail to support what Garth Brooks calls your local chapter of the American Honky Tonk Bar Assn., dance fans will encounter fewer clubs and longer drives.

Meanwhile, despite family nights created by some clubs, country dance activity is moving away from the honky tonk image and branching off to multi-generational, family-oriented venues. And many places provide smoke and alcohol-free environments. So watch for dances and classes offered at places like the Moose Lodge in Ventura or Simi Valley.

Country Lovers Western Dance Club holds monthly public dances at the American Legion Hall in Ventura.


Clip & Save: Here's the rundown on country dance classes starting soon:

* East Coast Swing meets 8 to 9 p.m. for eight weeks beginning Tuesday. Instructor: Janie Condley.

* West Coast Swing meets 9 to 10 p.m. for eight weeks, also beginning Tuesday. Instructor: Owen Meldy.

* Country Western Dance meets 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. for eight weeks, beginning Jan. 13. Instructor, Jimmy Dean. Dean will also teach Country Line Dancing, 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. for eight weeks beginning Jan. 13 and Country Line Dancing II, 7 to 8 p.m. for eight weeks beginning Tuesday. Cost for each course is $59 per person, $99 for couples. For details, contact Learning Tree University, 1408 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-2292.

* Several eight-week classes for adults sponsored by the Conejo Recreation and Park District will be held at the Goebel Senior Adult Center. Country Western Line Dance I, taught by Kathy Bailey, will meet 8 to 8:55 p.m. beginning Monday; Sandi Patterson will teach Country Western Line Dance I from 7 to 7:55 p.m. beginning Wednesday. Patterson teaches Country Western Line Dance II, from 8 to 8:55 p.m. beginning Wednesday; and Country Western Couples Dance (singles or couple welcome) from 9 to 9:55 p.m. Wednesdays. Each eight-week course is $17.50 per person. Classes meet at the Goebel Senior Adult Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, 497-1639.

* Adults age 50 and older, you don't need a partner to take a seven-week Country Western Line Dance class taught by Dave Howells from 2 to 3:30 p.m. beginning Tuesday at the Camarillo Community Center auditorium, 1605 E. Burnley, Camarillo, 482-4881. Cost: $14.

* Kathy Bailey will teach an eight-week course, Beginning Country and Western Line Dance, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. beginning Tuesday at Conejo Community Center, Dover and Hendrix avenues, in Thousand Oaks, 495-2163. Cost: $26 per person.

* Swing fans may want to check out Southern California's fourth annual Swing Dance Championships, to be held Friday through Sunday at the Buena Park Hotel 7675, Crescent Ave., Buena Park. Swing champions Jamie and Gail Arias, who teach at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, will offer a workshop at this event in Advanced West Coast Swing from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday. For details on dance workshops, competitive events or tickets, call (310) 867-2928 or (310) 869-8949. For hotel accommodations, call (800) 422-4444.


Next Week: Thirteen could be your lucky number. Love Connection is coming to the Crazy Bull on Jan. 13 to interview prospective participants for the television matchmaking show. Get the details here next week.

Robyn Loewenthal, an avid two-stepper, welcomes all news of country doin's around the county. All submissions should arrive at least two weeks before the event. Write to her at 5200 Valentine Road, Suite 140, Ventura, 93003 or send faxes to 658-5576.


* WHAT: Country Crazy Dance Nights

* WHERE: Nicholby's Upstairs Pool Hall and Night Club, 404 E. Main St., Ventura

* WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays

* ETC: Popular dance instructor-deejay Rick Henderson teaches at 7:30 p.m. and then plays tunes for open dancing. $3 cover charge per person; call 653-6488

* TWO-STEPPIN': Your guide to area country entertainment is in 11-Day Calendar. Page 10

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