Many of us do not recall the beginning of our club, so let’s all do a little reminiscing
Remember the Staircase in Downey? In November 1970, the club was formed and the Sunday dances started. This was our home for nearly five years. Mark Peters, our first President, guided the destiny of the club through those first enthusiastic, but lean years. The roster of the first Board of Directors reads like a Who’s Who of Swing Dancing: Mark Peters, Jerry Cobb, Jane Hand, Paul Lindsey, Willa Tenorio, Dawn Manganelli, Pat Bryant, Flip Phillips, John Phegley, Jackie Cobb, Marge Peters, Dave McQuain, Joan McQuain, and Kathy Phillips. Members at Large were: Valerie Knight, Rudy Linan, Mary Beth Treen, Richard Kucha, Bill Snyder, and Ron West.
Our second home was the beautiful Top-o’-the-West, with its glorious 1,000 sq. ft. dance floor. This was a nearly perfect setting for our Sunday dances…remember those spontaneous jam sessions with the Marc Anthony band cutting it up, and the variety of sidemen who would meander in and join the band just for the fun of playing for great dancers. It was during this time that we completed work on our non-profit incorporation and came of age as a club.
During the ensuing scramble for a home base, after the Top-o’-the-West was sold, we had brief stints at the Continental Club in Hollywood, Lion d’Or in Downey, Tahitian Village, Red Onion, Tudor Inn in Norwalk, Rustlers and after several more locations, we moved to the Golden Sails Hotel on November 5, 1989.
Our past Presidents included Mark Peters, Tom Boots, Andy Pounds, Beverly Boots, Marge Melichar, Fred Tretta, Bill Moreno, Joe Picconi, Colleen Johnson, Dixie Hutton, Marge Peters, Shirley Estep, Dottie Dominguez, Bart Bartolo, LeRoy Pendray, Fran Tassin, Mary Duffy, and our current President Bill Parker.
The club has been vibrant, fun-filled, and continues to fulfill an important role in the lives of all of us.
(Above includes excerpts from LASDC 12th & 33rd Anniversary Celebrations)
The current, remaining charter members are: Tom Boots, Colleen Johnson, Jackie Cobb, Jerry Cobb, Peggy Conners, Jane Hand, Jack Hays, Dawn Manganelli, Leon Raper,Mary Beth Treen, and Lucia Duffield-Jones.
Los Angeles Swing Dance Club (LASDC)
1970 - 1973
H. Leon Raper
I thought I would share some memories of the early days of the LASDC and how much enjoyment the club and dance has brought to my life. I met many great people in my over 40 years in dance. After being Founder and President of three other swing dance clubs, I know very well how much dedication and work is involved. Therefore, I have great appreciation and thanks to all the board members and helpers who worked so hard to bring the joy of dance to others. So, here is my little venture in reliving “déjà vu all over again.”
The Birth of a New Dance Club
October 25, 1970 several prominent members of the swing dance community held a meeting at the Holiday Inn in Anaheim, CA to discuss the formation of a new swing dance club called the “Swing Club of America, L.A. Chapter.” The founding board members present were Mark Peters (Chairman), Jerry Cobb (Vice Chairman), Marge Peters (Treasurer), Jackie Cobb (Secretary), Pat Bryant (Music), Jerry Goree and Irene Goree. They decided that the club should have 15 board members plus 5 board members at large; and made some other basic organizational decisions. They also decided to have the first club dance to a live band at the Staircase Lounge, 11500 Paramount Blvd., Downey, CA.
November 1, 1970 the board held another meeting in which they decided to change the club name to “L.A. Swing Dance Club of America.” They also decided to teach basic swing dance in the club, but no teachers from dance studios would be allowed to be on the board of directors. The date of November 22, 1970 was set to be the new club’s kick-off dance at the Staircase Lounge in Downey with Jim Diffee & The Quarternotes Band. By the kick-off dance they hoped to have a simple breakdown of club bylaws.
There were also two other board meetings held on November 8th and 16th prior to the kick-off dance in which other board members were chosen; including expanding the number of board members at large from 5 to 10.
November 22, 1970 The kick-off dance was highly successful. Jim Diffee’s band was great and everyone had a fantastic time. I can’t remember if it was the first dance or not, but singer Lou Rawls use to come to the club often and just sit and listen to the music.
Nov 23, 1970 The board of directors was so excited about the success of the first dance that they really started moving on organizational solutions and planning other great events for the club.
More Exciting Activities
The annual picnic and annual dance became very popular special events for the club. The club also started an annual Las Vegas Night event. Many people showed up at each event and had a great time. The club also sponsored a bowling league. Bringing friends together is what it is all about, and the club was highly successful at making that happen.
Oct 3, 1972 the club decided to send some club members to dance in the contest at the San Diego Festival. Three couples from the club were chosen to participate. They were Jackie & Jerry Cobb, Leon & Colleen Raper (Johnson), Dawn Kucha & George Christopherson. Jane Hand & Jim Davis were the standby couple.
You haven’t lived until you have seen or participated in a highly exciting dance jam. This is something that breaks out spontaneously at events. A dance jam normally starts when some hot music is playing and a dance couple is doing something really exciting on the dance floor. Every one backs off and forms a circle around the dancers. Then after a short while that couple quits and another couple jumps in trying to show their best dancing skills. This continues couple after couple. The excitement builds to a frenzy where everyone is clapping and having a great time. Then when all the dancers are exhausted, it is all over leaving everyone with wonderful memories.
Bylaws & Incorporation
Developing the Bylaws was very interesting process. It came down to a challenge between two different philosophies for governing the club. One was to give full control of all decisions to the board of directors. The other was that the membership must be allowed to have the final say if they choose to do so. I personally believed that final control should always be left to the membership.
Nov 28, 1970 and Mar 15 & 24, 1971 the need for creating Bylaws was brought up at board meetings, but it was decided to do so at a later date. April 17, 1972 Bylaws were brought before the board. After a lengthy discussion it was decided to have the bylaws revised and presented at a future meeting. The board continued working on perfecting Bylaws and the process of incorporation. Jan 9, 1973 club attorney Carol Ardura attended the board meeting and advised the board to incorporate as a nonprofit organization. She also agreed to provide a letter requesting a special meeting be held to inform the membership of the board’s desire to incorporate, and give the membership the opportunity to vote to approve incorporation.
Feb 13, 1973 The Bylaw Committee (including those representing the membership) gave a report on their meeting with the club attorney. A motion was approved to accept changes that the committee negotiated with the club attorney except Article 10 regarding Bylaw amendments; which would have given the board complete control of amendments to the Bylaws and not allowed the membership to have any say whatsoever.
Feb 18, 1973 a General Meeting of the Membership was held at the Staircase Lounge in which the club attorney Carol Ardura answered questions from the club members present. It was decided to have a committee to meet with the club attorney for final polishing of the Bylaws. The committee would be composed of board members and non-board members representing the club membership. Mark Peters appointed Pat Bryant, Loretta Sparlin and Leon Raper to represent the membership.
Feb 23, 1973: At the board meeting Mark Peters brought up the subject of changing the Bylaws. Tom Boots suggested that the Bylaws remain as currently approved until a committee meets with the club attorney. Those committee members are: Mark Peters, Jim Jackson, Jane Hand and Tom Boots. …
Mark then read another letter from Leon and Colleen Raper the text of which is as follows:
At the meeting for approval of the incorporation I understood from comments by several members of the board of directors that preparation for election of board members was already in progress. … I have analyzed the content of the bylaws proposed by the board of directors. It is my opinion that they will be unacceptable to the membership, particularly in the area of election of members of the board of directors and board responsibilities. … Based on the results of my analysis I request that all action with regard to elections be postponed until the bylaws are completed and approved by the membership of the club.
Jackie Cobb, Flip Phillips, Leon Raper (from the general membership). Jim Jackson was appointed chairman of the committee.
Mar 13, 1973: Visitors present at the board meeting for discussion of the Bylaws were: Leon & Colleen Raper (Johnson), Loretta Sparlin and Pat Bryant. The Bylaw committee gave a report on their meeting with the club attorney. A motion was approved to accept changes that the committee negotiated with the club attorney -- with the exception to Article 10 regarding amendments be approved by the Board. A special meeting to complete amendments of the Bylaws was set for March 19, 1073.
Mar 19, 1973 (Special Meeting): The purpose of the meeting was to continue from the point concluded at the last special Bylaws meeting, hearing Leon Raper’s suggestions and proposed modifications to the Board’s presently accepted Bylaws. Six of Raper’s suggestions were accepted by the board.
Mar 27, 1973 (Special Meeting): The purpose of the meeting was to continue from the point concluded at the previous special Bylaws meeting held March 19th, hearing Leon Raper’s suggestions and proposed modifications to the Boards presently accepted Bylaws
Apr 9, 1973: The purpose of the board meeting was to take up regular club business; however, through some misunderstanding, plus the need to conclude the final reading of the amended
Bylaws prior to presentation to the general membership on April 16th, Leon Raper attended the meeting for the final reading of the Bylaws.
Apr 17, 1973 (Special Meeting of Board & Membership): Held at the Staircase Lounge for the reading of the club Bylaws to the membership. Club attorney Carol Ardura was present to render assistance when needed. A copy of the Bylaws was given to each member present. The Bylaws were accepted by vote of the membership at this meeting.
First Club Election
Mar 18, 1973 (General Membership Nominating Meeting): The General Membership Nominating Meeting was held. Jim Jackson, chairman of the nominating committee presented the nominees chosen by the nominating committee. Nominees for President: Mark Peters and Jane Hand. Nominees for Vice President: Tom Boots, Paul Lindsey and Leon Raper. Nominees for Secretary: Beverly Boots, Lucy Frint, Peggy Conners. Nominees for Treasurer: Marge Peters and Loretta (Lea) Sparlin. Colleen Raper was nominated from the floor for Secretary. Peggy Conners and Beverly Boots declined their nominations for Secretary. The membership shall receive ballots within 2 weeks of this meeting.
Election Results: Mark Peters, President; Tom Boots, Vice-President; Lucy Frint, Secretary; Marge Peters, Treasurer.Comment: Mark Peters was an excellent President of the club. He felt that the club membership should have the final say in the operation of the club. The following quote from his campaign literature says all about Mark’s loyalty to the membership of the club: “The board’s desires are FINE, The member’s desires are FINAL”
All organizations go through growing pains. In the early days, with 15 board members, it was difficult to get a quorum in attendance at board meetings. In 1992 the club bylaws were updated reducing the number of board members from 15 to 8. This allowed the board to function more efficiently.
Show of Appreciation
It would be nice if occasionally dancers attending any dance club would search out members of the board of directors and tell them thanks for their hard work.