The block long “Rendezvous” made it’s debut on 24 March 1928 between Palm and Washington streets, bordered by a huge paved parking lot on the ocean front beach at Balboa, California. The 12,000-square-foot dance floor could easily accomodate over 1,500 couples with a 64 foot soda fountain on the ground floor along with dozens of couches and a smaller soda fountain above on the mezzanine and balcony surrounding the dance floor along with 50 more couches.
When the ballroom went up in flames on 27 January 1935, another even bigger and better “Rendezvous” was built on the site in less than 3 months – and because of the then depression economy, at a fraction of the cost of the first.
“Bal Week“. In the early 1930’s thousands of teenagers began flocking to Balboa from all over Southern California during Easter vacation to begin an endless cycle of spending the days at the beach, the nights until 1:00 a.m. dancing to the Big Bands at the Rendezvous Ballroom and partying until dawn at hundreds of overcrowded rental apartments and rooms throughout the Balboa and Newport Beach area.
By the late 1930’s, the Rendezvous Ballroom became a major West Coast stop for the touring Big Bands with the performances of Harry James, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnete, Les Brown and more accompanied by the famous vocalists of the era regularly broadcast by radio nationwide. By 1938 the ballroom was dubbed the “Queen of Swing” by Look Magazine.
The Balboa Peninsula was a popular destination for party goers during the early 30’s. The area became such a Mecca for thousands of teenagers during their Easter vacation that the holiday period became known as ‘Bal Week’. The local holiday homes and rental apartments were full to the brim with holiday makers spending their days at the beach and evenings dancing at the Rendezvous Ballroom.
“Rendezvous Swingeree” – 1938. To celebrate the end of the school year, KEHE disc jockey Al Poska organized this non-stop 7 day around the clock Big Band dance marathon at the Rendezvous Ballroom, officially due to commence at 6:00 a.m. on 18 June 1938. However, Poska (in the white jacket) actually opened the event at 5:30 a.m. with an eye popping performance by “jitterbug” dancers Roy Damron and Choppy Seed on the sidewalk in front of the ballroom entrance.
Later in the 40s more progressive jazz took over and Stan Kenton even owned the Ballroom for a short time. The venue then faded from glory a little before a brief ‘Surf Sound’ inspired resurgence in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Sadly the Rendezvous was completely destroyed by fire in 1966.
In the early morning hours of 7 August 1966, the Rendezvous Ballroom burned to the ground and an apartment complex was later built at the location.