Many of the big bands from the Swing Era played at the Casino Ballroom and we look forward to
recreating those historic dances where hundreds gathered to enjoy...
The Casino Ballroom, situated on Sugar Loaf Point at the northern end of Avalon Harbor and
completed in the Spring of 1929 by architects Walter Webber and Sumner A. Spaulding at a cost of
$2 million dollars. This Art Deco building was an engineering masterpiece and stood taller than any
building in Los Angeles at the time.
The Ballroom took its name from the Italian "place of entertainment," and does not actually have
gambling of any kind. At the time of its construction, America was immersed in the Jazz Age and
"swing fever" had taken hold, with large dance halls called "casinos" popping up throughout the
country. The Avalon Casino, by far one of the most spectacular ballrooms in the United States (and
the largest circular ballroom in the world), drew thousands of dancers who would come by
steamship from the mainland…dancing to Big Band music during the journey, then walking from
the docks to the Casino as band members played along the promenade all the way to the ballroom!
Twelve stories high and 180 feet in diameter, the Casino holds a large movie theater on the first floor
with remarkable acoustic features, gold- and silver-hued ornamentation and an immense hand-painted mural depicting the geography and history of Catalina Island. Above the theatre lies the Ballroom. At 10,000 square feet it boasts an arched 50 foot domed ceiling that holds five Tiffany chandeliers, rose-colored walls made up of full-length panoramic windows; an expansive outdoor balcony, an elevated stage, and spacious seating surround the circular dance floor. Sophisticated mood lighting is also used to create a magical ambiance for different tempos and styles of music.
To accommodate the 6,000 dancers that would normally attend a Casino dance in its heyday, the architects decided to incorporate a ramp as a baseball stadium would, as elevators would take too long to shuttle up and down, and stairs could easily cause dancers to twist an ankle or wear out their calves. Yes, this ballroom was built for dancers. The hardwood floor is constructed over layers of foam, pine and cork, all of which is suspended over five feet of air. It makes for a dancer's dream, and eliminates all noise that could otherwise disturb the theatre below.
You will not find a more beautiful setting for an evening dance or weekend dance festival than the Casino Ballroom.