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NIGHTSHIFT : Flamenco Gives New Twist and Shout to Happy Hour

October 06, 1994|ROSE APODACA JONES | Rose Apodaca Jones is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to The Times Orange County Edition. and

Interest in Spain and its culture revived in 1992 with the Olympics in Barcelona and radio play of the Gipsy Kings (who, ironically, are from France) and seems to be continuing with mucho gusto as tapas bars and restaurants continue to open and thrive statewide.

Also, flamenco classes are overflowing, vanguard director Pedro Almodovar achieves pop celebrity status, and movies such as last year's Oscar winner "Belle Epoque" and this summer's trendy "Barcelona" entertain more than art-house movie audiences.

Joining the chorus is El Torito in Westminster, which has added an intimate flamenco show at its Tuesday night happy hour from 8 to 10 p.m. For as little as $2.50--the cost of a margarita ($1.75) and soft taco (75 cents) during the show--you can be transported, in mood any ways, to a bar in the south of Spain.

Dancers Sarah Hohmeyer and Amparo de la Rosa move the crowd, seated around the indoor courtyard (careful of the splashing fountain). Lifelong students of dance, the two have been studying flamenco for about eight years, mostly here in Southern California's tight flamenco community. Neither claims Spanish heritage (De la Rosa is a stage name), but that never ensured an ability to dance, either.

As De la Rosa, a Silver Lake resident, put it: "This myth that you have to be Spanish to dance well has long been a monkey on the back of many flamenco artists."

Believers will change their mind once they catch these two. They flatten myth with their technical skill and inherent passion for the art of flamenco. Even their jaleo, the coaxing cried out during a dance, rings with Spanish flavor. They are accompanied by guitarists John Simpson and John Bryant.

The two-hour show (with a break) is the perfect place for a date, either for a drink or full dinner. It isn't paella, and the flan obviously follows a Mexican recipe, but keep your eyes on the tablao and everything else matters little.

The group also performs occasionally Saturday evenings at Tapas in Irvine, and every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Alegria, a tapas bar that recently opened in downtown Long Beach.


Footnote: New honorees will be inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame at the organization's fifth annual dinner-dance and awards show Saturday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Big-band music will be provided in the ship's grand ballroom by Walt Wilder's 13-piece band. Between sets, local deejay Bob Brewer will spin recorded tunes for dancing.

The black-tie affair will also feature live dance exhibitions and vintage film clips.

Tickets, $50 per person, are available at the door or by calling (818) 956-8174. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Hathaway House for abused and neglected children.


Club Grill at the Ritz-Carlton, 33533 Ritz Carlton Drive, Dana Point. (714) 240-2000. Open 7 p.m. to midnight Sunday, Monday and Thursday; 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. No cover. What the Club Grill lacks in the way of wild pizazz and grand orchestras commonly found in the old supper clubs, it more than makes up for in ambience. The mood here is intimate and very romantic--couples of all ages will find it the ideal place for a special evening. Bands play mostly KBIG covers. Just remember to bring your wallet; this isn't among the cheaper dates.


* 15042 Goldenwest St., Westminster.

* (714) 898-6621.

* Show is from 8 to 10 p.m.

* No cover.

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