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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | CENTERPIECE

Fun -- on the Family Plan

Country dancing is cheaper than a night at the movies, and the whole clan gets dinner--plus the chance to work it off.

July 11, 1996|ROBIN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Remember how easy and fun it was to go out dancing during those days when you were first dating? A leisurely dinner was followed by hours on the dance floor. Chances are that life has intervened since then. Now that the kids have come along, the hassle of finding and paying a baby-sitter has made those romantic outings as rare as breakfast in bed.

One solution is to take the kids with you. There are several places in Ventura County where you can dance and interact as a family. You'll probably get the most bang for your buck at Family Night, from 4 to 10 p.m. Sundays, at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks.

The $5-per-person cover charge at Borderline includes admission, free access to an all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet and dance lessons at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. The cost of beverages is not included, but even so, this family night on the town is a bargain.

A recent family night inside the club looked like a country cotillion as 14 couples of all shapes and sizes spun counter-clockwise around the dance floor. The deejay-instructor Rick Borja shouted out, "Quick, quick, slow, slow," and reviewed rules of dance-floor etiquette.

"We're here every Sunday night with all five kids," said Mark Lindauer, a resident of Oak Park.

"Even if we don't want to come, they'd drag us," added Lindauer's wife, Amy. "We were even here on Mother's Day and Father's Day."

The couple has been bringing the brood, ages 4 to 13, since October.

"I like how there is stuff to do even if you don't like dancing," said 13-year-old Ashley Lindauer. "Sometimes my friends come along to play the pinball machines or use the pool tables."

Meanwhile Borja invites a 19-year-old patron to help him demonstrate basic moves to the assembled crowd. "We always start with a beginning two-step or swing lesson so that everybody--old and young--interacts together," he said.

Dancers are back-lit by daylight streaming in the wall of windows overlooking the Ventura Freeway. The well-ventilated room feels more like a community recreation center than a bar.

Jeff Luxenberger, 12, squires his mom, Jana around the floor while executing two-step tucks and turns. This is a rare display indeed: a preteen boy who is not mortified to be seen dancing with his mother, let alone be seen out socially with his parents.

Then Pete, the dad, and 10-year-old Kyle join them for the Water Melon Crawl line dance.

"We like country music but we weren't dancers. We heard about family night but we knew it was a bar situation so we wanted to check it out first," said Jana.

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They have been coming from Simi Valley almost every Sunday for about a year, said Pete Luxenberger.

By 6:45 p.m. about half of the 200 patrons are on the dance floor doing Simon-says-type gestures to "La Macarena," a dance to a tune of the same title that spread from Mexico north through the dance clubs.

"With summer vacation and school being out, we close the place," said Mark Lindauer.

"And it's good exercise," said Amy Lindauer. "It's nice too because we've met other adults. And we see a lot of single parents in here with their kids."

"Yeah, but we see 'em usually every two weeks," said Mark. "You can tell when it's their weekend with the kids."

DETAILS

* WHAT: Family Dance Night.

* WHERE: Borderline Bar & Grill, 99 Rolling Oaks Drive, Thousand Oaks.

* WHEN: 4-10 p.m. Sundays.

* HOW MUCH: $5 per person includes buffet but not beverages. Kids 4 and younger admitted free.

* CALL: 446-4435.

* FYI: Dance lessons hourly, 5-7 p.m. At 8 p.m. kids can compete for prizes in dance-floor rodeo games.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Country Fare

Here are other venues in the county where families can dance with their kids. In addition to clubs, Learning Tree University in Thousand Oaks (497-2292) and most park and recreation districts regularly offer a variety of country line and partner dance classes that often welcome children and teens.

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Western Country Club Dance & Recreation Night (Boyd Community Center, 510 Park Road, Ojai, 646-1872) Tonight's family-oriented event will feature a taco salad dinner at 6 p.m., dance lessons at 7 and 8 p.m. with Cynthia Broaddus, music by deejay Debra Lee, and a full game room including billiards, air hockey and table tennis; 6-9 p.m.; admission for dancing and games is $3 per person in advance, $4 at the door; dinner is an additional $4.

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Family Country-Western Dance (Borchard Community Center, 190 Reino Road, Newbury Park, 498-3124) On Saturday, the monthly smoke-and-alcohol-free event features line-dance instruction at 7 p.m. by Kathy Bailey; and Jimmy-O provides music until 11 p.m.; $5. (Also Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9 and Dec. 14 with different teachers and deejays).

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