Long Beach Ballet takes coffee lovers ‘Backstage’

backstage.jpgBy Heather Posey
Staff Writer

The Long Beach Ballet is buzzing in preparation of their latest project. And no, this time it’s not one of their many popular productions. The dancers are trading in their tutus for aprons and serving trays for one day as Backstage at the Long Beach Ballet Coffee House opens up to the public this Sunday.
Located adjacent to the Long Beach Ballet School on Wardlow Road, Backstage offers a menu variety of coffees, smoothies and snack items on their menu. Their dance wear area also features clothing and accessories. Backstage was the vision of artistic director David Wilcox, who has worked with the Long Beach Ballet Academy for 26 years.
“I thought ‘Well, we’re a ballet school and there’s this nice store-front window right here so we need to turn this little area right here into a dance wear shop,” said Wilcox. “It’s perfect because we’re a ballet studio.”
So with the new project in mind, he renovated the space to accommodate his apparel. His project was soon sidetracked with the development of the Long Beach Ballet as a professional dance company.
“One thing led to another and I started a professional ballet company, and so this got turned into the offices. Even though I was almost ready to start a dancewear shop, I got busy starting a professional company instead,” he said.
For 15 years the property was used for administration purposes and when the company closed in 1998, Wilcox was finally able to make his dancewear store come to life. Not long after, the shop started serving coffee.
“At the time we were giving coffee away as a perk because we just had a coffee pot,” said Wilcox. “Then one thing led to another and I thought ‘maybe we should sell coffee’ so I bought the extra equipment and a health permit from the city and here we are.”
Backstage features Tully’s gourmet coffee and Island Oasis Smoothies. The shop is complete with tables for customers and a special upstairs dining loft where guests can have a private, birds-eye view of dancers rehearsing in the studios next door. Featuring a “dumbwaiter,” drinks can go straight from the kitchen to the loft, preventing spillage.
The grand opening celebration for Backstage is Sunday, Feb. 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The coffee house will be serving free coffee all day and selling smoothies at half price. Dancers from the Long Beach Ballet will also be performing for guests all day.
Backstage at the Long Beach Ballet Coffee House and Smoothie Bar is located at 1122 East Wardlow Road in Long Beach. For more information, contact David Wilcox at (562) 426-4112.

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