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THE PAST – In January of 1915, Santa Monica opened what the Los Angeles Times called “the first municipally managed dancing pavilion in California” at the edge of the Ocean Park Pier.

The new dancehall was an obvious predecessor to the La Monica Ballroom, which opened a decade later on the Santa Monica Pier and was an inspiration for today’s Twilight Concert Series (originally named the Twilight Dance Series).

With the new public dancehall came the question of censored dances – Santa Monica had made news months earlier when it banned tangoing and other “indecent” dances in the parks and on the pier. Apparently, these dances were causing public disturbances.

Following the opening of the hall, the Times identified City Hall’s “new Dancing Master.”

“The question of how bad the ‘rag’ may be has not been settled,” the Times wrote, after grilling the city’s new Dancing Master.

Police Chief Randall admitted that he couldn’t tell the difference between a “fox trot” and a “Texas Tommy.”


City considers expanding beachfront park

City officials considered buying up a 6,000-foot-long stretch of land along the city’s north beach to used for a park. Three private landholders were offering up their space for sale and Mayor Dudley suggested they strike before prices rose any further.

City officials had been given the opportunity to buy the land, at the foot of the bluffs, for significantly less, when they were buying up what is now called Palisades Park, but they declined – an error in Dudley’s view and one not to be repeated.

All three swaths of land would cost the City Hall $400,000 – in the neighborhood of $10 million today – and would have to be purchased with a bond issued through a public vote.


Sea serpent

In January of 1914 there were multiple reports of a sea serpent off the coast of Ocean Park, according to Los Angeles Times archives. It was apparently 100 feet long and “carried six feet above the waves a formidable head with eyes like twin platters and a ‘waving mane.'”

It was, according to other witnesses, a deep green, with a seaweed-like mane, and ears like “shovel blades.”

No one caught the thing, which was spotted at least four times.


Kid cat choker

A six-year-old kid, “little Bennie,” choked a stray cat to death with some string to save his mom.

The cat had come up to the Smith family’s back window, attempting to get to a plate of food. Bennie’s mother tried to grab the plate, but the feline bit her finger and “sunk his teeth into the flesh like a bulldog.”

Bennie wrapped the string around the cats neck and “nearly lost his nerve” seeing his mother’s bloody hand, but he held tight. Even after the cat was incapacitated it stayed clench to Bennie’s mother and a doctor had to used scissors to pry open its jaw.

The cat’s head was sent to the state laboratory in Berkeley for examination.

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