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Clubs in and around Orange County | WANNA DANCE?

Classics at Avant Garde

Its elegant ballroom is ideal for a waltz, fox trot or salsa.


NEWPORT BEACH — Avant Garde Ballroom, a school that doubles as a nightclub, has one of the best, prettiest rooms for dancing in Orange County. From carpet to kitchenette, every inch of the establishment is new, and its very large "floating" dance floor is gloriously unobstructed by pillars, or anything else.

Co-owners Brandy J. Fakier and Andre Bonderman opened it in January. She's an amateur competitor, he's a social dancer. They previously sold ballroom dance-apparel, which now adorns the racks of Avant Garde's boutique.

Unlike the shop's frilly, neon-colored gowns (the insular world of competitive ballroom can be sartorially over the top), the school's decor is elegantly simplistic. There's an airy reception room out front, a 2,500-square-foot dance floor, an eating-resting area and spanking clean restrooms and the boutique out back.

Framed prints cast dancers dipping romantically. Black's the color of tall stools and tables. Two entire walls are covered, floor to ceiling, with mirrors. A mirrored ball atop the floor is the only hint of glitz.

Dances held every Friday and Saturday are heavy on such Latin styles as rumba, mambo and salsa, but there's music for East and West Coast swing as well as for waltzes, fox trots and boleros. The crowd leans toward 30 and up. The turnout balloons on the fourth Saturday of each month, when the U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dancers Assn. sponsors a dance that draws devotees from beyond county lines.

Avant Garde also attracts some of the country's champion ballroom dancers, charismatic stars such as Peta Siddall and Maria Hansen you see on the high-stakes national competition shown annually on PBS. These guests teach group and private lessons. Meanwhile, Patricia Straight spins West Coast swing music Thursdays.

No smoking or drinking is allowed at these parties, but admission includes finger foods, sweets, sodas and juice. Plans call for Friday night's format to change in July to East and West Coast swing and Lindy, and for a Sunday afternoon dance.


GRAND STYLE: Promoters from John Dominis, the Shark Club and Club Rubber joined energies to stage "The Grand Ball" on a recent Friday at the Newport Beach Sheraton. A fashion show dragged on forever, the mediocre band's sound system was atrocious and emcee Jim "The Poorman" Trenton, Groove Radio's morning deejay, belched into his microphone.

But hundreds of freaky-fetish people crammed the party hall, and John Joyce, who produces the Dominis gigs, plans to make the party a monthly affair. He says the show will go on next month, though scheduling conflicts may move it to another hotel and the band may be eighty-sixed. Watch this space for updates.


Avant Garde Ballroom, 4220 Scott Drive, Newport Beach, (714) 442-7600. Ballroom dances 8 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. Cover: $10; West Coast swing, 8 p.m.-midnight Thursday. Cover: $8.

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