Local News

Sunday, Nov 17 2013 05:42 PM

Dancing with an international flair at Golden State Mall

  1. 1 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Every Sunday afternoon, couples like Joe Ramirez and Lola Suarez, left, and Manuel Invaldiva and Bessie Carlton, right, head to the D'Gourmet Filipino Cuisine restaurant at the Golden State Mall to dance and socialize.

    click to expand click to collapse
  2. 2 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Beneath party lights, Manuel Invaldiva and Bessie Carlton dance the afternoon away at the Golden State Mall.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Joe Ramirez and Lola Suarez cut a fine silhouette as they move to the beat of the Joe Loco Duet.

    click to expand click to collapse
  4. 4 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Joe Loco Duet vocalist Santos Cepeda gets the crowd in a dancing mood with his smooth singing.

    click to expand click to collapse
  5. 5 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Joe T. Garcia of the Joe Loco Duet keeps the dancers moving with a steady beat from his keyboards at the D'Gourmet Filipino Cuisine restaurant in the Golden State Mall

    click to expand click to collapse
  6. 6 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    In addition to dancing, just sitting and chatting with friends, like Toni Molina,(left) is popular as well at the D'Gourmet Filipino Cuisine restaurant in the Golden State Mall.

    click to expand click to collapse
  7. 7 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Every Sunday afternoon seniors head to the Golden State Mall and the D'Gourmet Filipino Cuisine restaurant for socializing and dancing.

    click to expand click to collapse
  8. 8 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    D'Gourmet Filipino Cuisine restaurant owner Rose Bryant, left, steps from behind the counter to join in the fun with Martha Morales as a dance partner.

    click to expand click to collapse
  9. 9 of 9

    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Manuel Invaldiva and Bessie Carlton didn't let too many songs pass without being on the dance floor at the D'Gourmet Filipino Cuisine restaurant in the Golden State Mall.

    click to expand click to collapse
BY STEVE LEVIN Californian staff writer slevin@bakersfield.com

The concept is simple: a place for seniors to dance on Sundays.

It's the details that are notable: country and western music at a Filipino restaurant that attracts Hispanics and whites.

The pancit, lumpia and halo-halo? Forget about it. The three dozen people who show up weekly are there to dance, not eat, except for the occasional bag of snacks and sodas or water between songs from the Joe Loco Duet.

For couples like Bessie Carlton and Manuel Invaldiva, it's part of their weekly circuit of Bakersfield-area dance venues. The couple -- "We've been going together for two years," said Carlton -- dance up to six days a week around town.

Both 84, they line, square, ballroom and round dance "depending on what's being played," Invaldiva said.

And they come every Sunday to D'Gourmet Filipino Cuisine restaurant, tucked into a back corner of the Golden State Mall on F Street. Even as the restaurant has changed owners, the music has remained in the hands of the Joe Loco Duet for the past four years.

"We play everything," said the duet's namesake, 77-year-old keyboardist Joe T. Garcia, including country and western, pop, bolero and Latin American music.

His cousin, Santos Cepeda, 66, plays conga and handles vocals. One of his most popular covers is the Buck Owens/Dwight Yoakam standard "Streets of Bakersfield.

Everyone knows everyone. It was Garcia's friend, Lorenzo Munoz of Lamont, who first suggested they play at D'Gourmet Filipino.

Even though Munoz and his wife, Virginia, don't dance -- she has bad knees -- they come each Sunday to "watch all our friends.

"We get tired of staying home all week," said Munoz, 85.

Rose Bryant, the restaurant's Filipina owner, is a registered nurse who teaches at both Bakersfield College and Porterville College during the week. She's owned the restaurant just since May, but realized immediately that the reason to open on Sundays was not to make money.

"These people are here just to dance," she said. "They're like my friends. It's a melting pot."

Have something to share? Comment on this story

Bakersfield.com Daily Deal!

Bakersfield Blaze

Daily Deal

Half off a 4 Pack of Blaze Tickets with 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas

Value
$60
% Off
50%
You Save
$30
3 Bought
Buy Now! See more deals