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SM PIER — Music lovers will be dancing like Egyptians this summer at the Santa Monica Pier.

The pier’s 27th annual Twilight Dance Series (TDS) features an eclectic mix of acts highlighted by 1980s pop group The Bangles, the Daily Press learned Thursday.

“I feel really good about what has taken place,” said Steve Gibson, the interim executive director of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp., which manages and promotes the landmark. “I think the community will be excited about this year’s concerts, too.”

The series of 10 free concerts begins July 7 with a show dubbed The SaMo Mambo, featuring Grupo Fantasma and Oscar Hernandez’s L.A. Salsa Allstars. The night begins with free salsa lessons.

Gibson, who is overseeing his first year of the TDS, said he’s most proud of the fact that the PRC didn’t have to resort to asking the City Council to help subsidize the events. Last year, pier officials, afraid that sponsorships alone wouldn’t cover the 2010 slate of shows, went to the council for emergency funds to cover the cost of the concerts.

The council obliged, and ultimately gave the PRC $85,000 to subsidize the venerable series that got its start as a fundraiser to rebuild the pier after a massive storm hit in 1983.

Gibson didn’t want a repeat of ‘10 and went to work signing up sponsors for this year’s series. For the first time in TDS history, Gibson was able to ink a presenting sponsor for the entire run. OneWest Bank will be the main sponsor.

He added sponsors for individual nights, bringing in roughly $240,000 for his efforts.

The funds raised don’t cover the entire amount needed, with the rest coming from PRC coffers.

“We have not gone to this council this year and will not,” Gibson said. “Thankfully, they helped last year, and we’re appreciative of that.”

This year’s fundraising effort is even winning people over at City Hall.

“We are delighted with the business community’s commitment to the Twilight Dance Series,” said Mayor Richard Bloom. “Their efforts help to preserve the cultural heritage of Santa Monica and, with their contributions, we will continue to enjoy free summer concerts at the pier.”

Gibson may have taken a different path with the business side of the TDS this year, but he’s mindful to continue the tradition that began years ago. He said that he was committed to continue the legacy of the series that will, to the public, look and feel like past years.

He added that most of the changes were internal. A major effort was made to include more staff members in the decision making process from the early phases of planning.

“It continues what has been,” Gibson said. “But, it is more financially stable than it has been in the past.”

If you go

• July 7, The SaMo Mambo: Grupo Fantasma and Oscar Hernandez’s L.A. Salsa Allstars (salsa dance lessons start at 6 p.m.)

• July 14, 80’s Pop: The Bangles and Caracol

• July 21, Australia Rocks the Pier! (presented by the Australian Consulate and Cotton On): Missy Higgins and Kim Churchill

• July 28, Reggae/Ska: Slackers and Star Pool (plus the finalists of Rusty’s Surf Ranch emerging artist competition)

• Aug. 4, (presented by Cirque du Soleil): TBA

• Aug. 11, La Monica Ballroom Then & Now: Royal Crown Revue, Orgone, and Ameera

• Aug. 18, Making Waves: A Night of Surf Guitar: Duo-Tones, Slacktone, and The Eliminators

• Aug. 25, Tango on the Timbers: Milongatron, (tango lessons start at 6 p.m.)

• Sept. 1, Americana: Dawes (plus the winner of Rusty’s Surf Ranch emerging artist competition)

• Sept. 8, New Orleans Funk & Blues (presented by Bloomingdales): TBA

More information about the Twilight Dance Series can be found at twilightdance.org.

daniela@smdp.com

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