Long Beach is at the southern end of Los Angeles County and is one of the three major
gay and lesbian communities in the Los Angeles Basin (the others being West Hollywood and
Silverlake). Formerly home to a major Navy base and now one of the United States' largest
commercial ports, it is also a growing industrial and financial center. Right in the middle
of all the attractions of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, Long Beach is an easy drive from
either West Hollywood or Laguna Beach. It offers the best of the area: a seaside location,
clean air, low population density (well, for the area that is), many parks, the Queen Mary,
the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Museum of Latin American Art, and plenty of community activities in
our own laid-back neighborhood -- including square dancing.
In 1996 there were three clubs in the LA area: Tinseltown Squares, Golden State Squares, and
Royalty Squares. None of them was all that far away. Nonetheless, in the early months of that
year, a group of five Long Beach square dancers said, "Why isn't there a gay square dance club
in Long Beach?" As it happened, Paul Waters was just bringing the Henzel plan to Southern
California at that time. The three area clubs were planning to form a consortium to use the
Henzel plan to promote lesbian and gay square dancing in Southern California. Paul worked with
the five founders, encouraging them and providing guidance to them in forming the Long Beach club.
Shoreline Squares was born.
The timing must have been right: with the initiative and hard work of the founders - Carol Brend, Jack Castiglione, Doug Cleaver, Bob Newman, and Rik Panero - and with names gathered by the consortium at local pride events we held our first class on September 12, 1996. In the spring of 1997 we graduated our first class of 16 dancers. Not bad for a club's first year out! Proud and enthusiastic, many of the members attended their first IAGSDC convention in Las Vegas. Later in 1997 we hosted our first fly-in.
Shoreline Squares is still thriving and growing. We like to think that we're the friendliest club in the area, but you can decide for yourself. Come visit; you'll get a warm welcome.