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Dance Hall Days

August 25, 1994|CHRISTINA V. GODBEY and The Mayflower Ballroom, 234 S. Hindry Ave., Inglewood. Hours are from 7 to 11:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Admission is $6. Information: (310) 649-4255. and

The Mayflower Ballroom makes all the right moves.

Sure-footed on the border of Westchester and Inglewood, the Mayflower has been a cornerstone in the neighborhood for more than five decades. Originally built as a USO club before World War II, the ballroom has served not only as a club but, during the 1940s and 1950s, also as a roller rink in the daytime before evening dances.

Its heart belongs to the golden age of Big Band, to those days when the sounds of Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller filled the airwaves.

Considered one of the last ballrooms in Los Angeles, the Mayflower is home to a loyal following. And it's strictly ballroom--swing, mambo, tango and even a little polka, every Wednesday night.

Deejay Pat Bryant spins tunes for the first half-hour to get things moving on the dance floor before the Tanner Brothers Orchestra takes the stage. The seven-piece orchestra, made up of studio-trained musicians, performs a lineup certain to please even the pickiest of dancers.

"We know what people want to dance to," said 78-year-old Slim Tanner, who plays the bass and has performed at numerous Los Angeles hot spots over the years. "Ballroom dancing is great exercise and it's better than sitting home. . . . You can meet a lot of nice people."

On a typical night, from 150 to 200 patrons pull out their best dinner jackets and dresses for a few turns on the dance floor. The couples, and many singles as well, come from as far away as Ventura and exhibit all levels of skill.

According to Mayflower owner and operator Mark Singaguglia, customers have discovered that it's not just a place to dance but a great place to socialize. Over the years, he said, many friendships and romances have blossomed at the ballroom, with a few patrons even tying the knot.

"The Mayflower is a comfortable place for all ages to come together, enjoy the music and dance with a myriad of others," said Ping King, who met her husband, Nick, nearly two years ago at the ballroom. "It is truly our favorite place on Earth."

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