Around Town: Boca Ballroom battle raises record for scholarship funding

Photo slideshow

By Thom Smith

Glen Calder was in on the act, but he just wasn’t sure how. Wife Kristin was competing in the annual Boca Ballroom Battle, so in support of the cause — the George Snow Scholarship Fund — he agreed to play a role in her dance number.
    The theme was movies,  and each of the eight dancers assumed the identity of a film star or character for an opening intro and then an actual dance number. A former Boca Raton deputy mayor and health care executive, Peter Baronoff, for example, assumed the role of Mrs. Doubtfire. Boca YMCA boss Dick Pollock recreated the dance scene from Pulp Fiction. Local activist Beth Osborne pulled an Austin Powers.

Peter Baronoff did his best ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ imitation and set a record for fundraising.

YMCA President Dick Pollack was picked for best male dancer.

Beth Osborne was honored for best female fundraiser and dancer for her ‘Austin Powers’-like moves.

    For the Calders’ act, Glen knew only that he was to sit on a chair on the dance floor. The music started and Kristin, head of public relations for the Bethesda Hospital Foundation and mother of three, strutted out in a fur coat, which she removed to reveal a swirling dress, straight out of The Seven-Year Itch.  Then doing her best Marilyn Monroe, she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” to her stunned but grinning husband.
    Calder and her partner, Fred Astaire Studio dance director Jay Molter, then segued into their “real” dance to Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.
    “When I see the photos I can’t believe it’s me out there,” Calder said. “When they asked me to participate, I was pregnant and thought this would be a good way to get back in shape. But to learn the choreography and pretending to be Marilyn Monroe was as mentally challenging as it was physical. It’s a very emotional experience as well. Most of us wouldn’t get out there if it wasn’t for a cause.”
    Calder didn’t win. The mirrored ball trophies for best dance went to Pollock and Osborne, who also took the top fundraising prize with Baronoff. But no regrets, as the event raised $290,000 for college scholarships.

Kristin Calder was greeted with flowers by her children, Harrison and Caroline, after channeling Marilyn Monroe.

Photos by Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

    “It gets better every year, the talent of the dancers and what people put into it,” she said. “When I look at the pictures and see all the people smiling and having such a great time, it was worth it. And for a few minutes, I was Marilyn Monroe. That was great. I’m sure it will be a part of my life for some time to come.”

   Imagine how the world would have been if MM had done the samba. The essence of Brazil will transform Boca on Sept. 7 as Friday Night Live! celebrates Brazilian Independence Day with a full schedule of events at Sanborn Square. Entertainment by singer Rose Max and Batuke Samba Funk, art, fashion and Brazilian food from Gourmet Truck Expo. The carnival begins at 6 p.m.
    Aside from the music, a large part of the appeal of playing in a local band is its spontaneity and unpredictability. Brian Bolen has seen a lot of both during his career, most recently with Uproot Hootenanny, a string band. It plays most of its gigs at bars and clubs in the coastal towns, although it recently has added an annual hop to the Emerald Isle for a fortnight of performances.
    “We played 10 gigs in 15 days this year,” said Bolen, who plays guitar and bass and sings. “Next year we’ll have some more gigs lined up. I think they’ll let us back in.”
    Perhaps the guys also made an impression on Khris Royal, who stopped by the Wishing Well in mid-August after a concert at Pompano Beach Amphitheater. Royal is a sax player, born and raised in the jazzy-funk of New Orleans, who was accepted at Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music at age 16. He’s played with the Marsalises and Bobby Brown and recorded with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Ashanti and Erykah Badu. Now in one of those surprise, unexpected musical moves, he’s added his sax to Rebelution, a fast-rising band from California that plays, of all things, reggae.
    After the Pompano concert, Royal met some of the locals who invited him to go clubbing … and he accepted … and when they arrived as the Wishing Well and the surprised Bolen invited him to jam … he accepted.  
    “He jumped up and played. He was fun to jam with,” Bolen said of the resulting fusion of Irish, rock, reggae and jazz. “I mean, we’re a full-on string band, but it worked.”
    Royal and Rebelution have moved on with their national tour, but Uproot Hootenanny is busy at home in Boca, with dates Sept. 7 at The Funky Biscuit, Sept. 14 at The Wishing Well and Sept. 29 at Biergarten.  
 Hold it! This can’t be right. A new building and business opening ahead of schedule? Well, it’s happened. Hyatt Place Pineapple Grove opened Aug. 8. Its 134 rooms, none on the ground floor, feature 42-inch flat-screen TVs, cozy corners and sofa lounges and expansive views of downtown Delray. It’s certified “green” (energy efficient) and includes a rooftop pool, a hot tub, workout room, full service bar, 24-hour food service, conference rooms and a ground floor gallery. During September, rooms start at $109 and are expected to range from $170 in summer to $300 during the season. A grand opening is planned for October.
    On the subject of dining and entertainment, Boynton Beach for years has taken a back seat to its more vocal neighbors north and south. Not any more.
    With a big boost from the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, young, energetic and innovative restaurateurs intend to turn what has been a town that people passed through on their way to Lake Worth or Delray and Boca into a dining destination.
    To make its point, the CRA recently offered media members a trolley tour of five spots that typify the town’s potential.
    Everything at The Backyard — half a block west of Federal — is outdoors, except the cooking; that’s done in an Airstream trailer. Live music, cold drinks and fresh, locally supplied food keep the place packed seven days a week.
    Chrissy Benoit, who once worked for Wolfgang Puck and moved to Lake Worth after a hurricane blew her out of Orlando, is working wonders with the just opened Little House, the renovated cottage on East Ocean, a block west of Federal. Again, it’s all fresh. Warning: The Pop Rock petite citrus sour cream pie ($6) is deadly.
    Across the street, seafood plays a big role at Hurricane Alley, although landlubbers can have their fill, too! But you can fish all day on the Sea Mist III drift boat and they’ll cook your catch for you. They also offer up a jalapeño margarita, an Asian calamari salad and a décor to delight the most debauched nautical wheeler.
    Farther south at Federal and Woolbright, on the ground floor of Las Ventanas, Sweetwater bills itself as a cocktail bar, rustling up some of the wildest libations known to man, as well as barrels of craft beers and a cellarful of wine. Food, too! It opened a year and a half ago, and with nearly 500 rental units above, they expected most patrons to be walk-ins. To the contrary, folks from Boca to Jupiter have found out.     
    The only waterfront site on the tour, Prime Catch, actually has the New England feel of old brick and stained wood, cod and live Maine lobster. But the Therian family, which also owns the Banana Boat up the road and the Fifth Avenue Grill in Deerfield Beach, loves to fish and their catches — mahi, swordfish — make up a large part of the menu.
    Most important — the town has a new can-do attitude. It’s worth a stop.
    Down in Boca, almost as quickly as Philippe opened, it closed. Reportedly, Philippe Chow’s success with his Asian fusion restaurant didn’t travel well to East Palmetto Park Road. Local diners weren’t willing to pay the price, so he pulled the plug after only a year.
    Similarly, Assaggio del Forno in Boca’s Regency Shops at Jog and Yamato has closed barely six months after opening. Dennis Max’s foray into modern small-plate Italian cuisine didn’t catch on with the locals who wanted “old-style Italian.”
“I decided to let my partner (John Williams) do what he wanted,” Max said. “I think he’ll reopen in October.”
    The severed partnership also spelled the demise of Frank and Dino’s in Deerfield Beach, but don’t expect Max to slow down.
Though business couldn’t be better at Max’s Grille in Mizner Park, on Aug. 27 Max closed it for a month to give it a major makeover, including a new display kitchen. Until it reopens Sept. 26, Max urges diners to give Max’s Harvest in Delray a shot.
Max’s next project is The Mexican, a sit-down restaurant with a large indoor-outdoor bar in Royal Palm Place. Max says it’s similar to Carlos and Pepe’s, a concept he developed with Burt Rapoport more than 30 years ago in Fort Lauderdale.
    Look for a late-October, early-November opening,  which will be followed around Thanksgiving by Burt and Max’s in the still-under-construction Delray Marketplace out west at Lyons and Atlantic. After more than a decade apart, Max and Rapoport are again teaming up. This venture, Max said, will be an evolution of Max’s Grille.
    It’s a lot safer than it was three years ago,” Max said of the restaurant business. “A lot of young people are doing restaurants that are approachable, affordable, with excellent food that’s international. People want to go out and have a good time, and restaurants fill that need — now more than ever.”
    Also coming to the Marketplace will be Famiglia pizzeria, Shula Burger, Cabo Flats, a casual Mexican restaurant already opened in Palm Beach Gardens, and a 10-screen, 16-lane theater-bowling alley combo.
    Back in Mizner Park, around the first of the year, you should be able to go from a concert in the amphitheater at the north end to a jam session in the south end. The space formerly occupied by ZED451 is scheduled to become JAZZIZ Nightlife, a spinoff of Michael Fagien’s JAZZIZ magazine.
    Fagien, a radiologist by day,  plans to spend $6 million on the concept that will offer good food, good service and good shows — day and night — but previous attempts at jazz venues in South Florida, much less Boca, haven’t done well. However, with the emergence of the Arts Garage in Delray, and with Fagien’s ties to performers through his magazine, the odds may be improving.
    Meanwhile, Train is booked at the amphitheater Sept. 5 and Bonnie Raitt on Oct. 21, while Funky Biscuit has The Lee Boys on Oct. 19, and Maria Muldaur on Oct. 27. Rusted Root will play the Biergarten on Nov. 7.
    Up in Lake Worth, Sauceboss Bill Wharton and Damon Fowler headline Blues, Brews and BBQ, Oct. 20-21 at Bryant Park; the Bamboo Room has New Riders of the Purple Sage booked for Nov. 2-3 and Steve Forbert on Nov. 8.  

Visitors to the Seagate Hotel and Spa visit the hotel’s new shark tank (above), which has three small sharks (below).

Photos by Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

  Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Find him at

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