Pacific Bowling Center/Dancing Waters Club, 1331 S. Pacific Ave.

Image courtesy Sid Penance’s superb San Pedro Art Deco Flickr album

A nice piece of San Pedro Streamline is going away. And with it, a big chunk of Southland history.

1331 South Pacific Avenue began life as the brainchild of Nick Pericich. In 1940 Pericich hired local architect William F. Durr and spent $19,000 to build the ten-room Pacific Bowling Center. The most modern in the Harbor District!

San Pedro News Pilot, 2 November 1940
San Pedro News Pilot, 4 November 1940

William F. Durr’s largest commission was his grand American Legion Hall, now lost, at Tenth and Gaffey, from 1922. His best known extant work is surely the 1928 Brown Brothers stores and offices at 461 West Sixth:

You’re probably familiar with this one because it’s right across the street from the Warner Grand. Dig that arched transom. Check out, too, Durr’s 1923 one-story red brick commercial building at 717-19 South Pacific. Durr also designed many of the buildings in the Port of San Pedro.
As it is today, with its cool neon’d Streamline pylons

PBC remains a bowling alley for nearly thirty years. Then, records from 1969 indicate 1331 has a new owner, one Al Cordiero. He takes out a permit for this:

And, with that, it becomes a night club called the Dancing Waters.

The club one of the most important venues in the South Bay. Here’s an article about 1331 that doesn’t get its early history exactly correct, but does tell us incredible stuff about the bands that played there.

From the Los Angeles Times, June 22 1995. Courtesy Proquest.

The Waters Club, AKA the Dancing Waters, is spoken of in Craig Ibarra’s recent book about Pedro punk. A review notes:

From a recent issue of Random Length News

Besides being a cool South Bay place for norteño and hardcore gigs (e.g., these) Dancing Waters also posed as Jake LaMotta’s Club in the 1980 Scorcese picture Raging Bull:

You owe it to yourself to watch the movie if for no other reason than to go to 1:42:51 and see the animated neon waterfall in action

Read some more interesting tidbits about Cordiero and his Dancing Waters here.

So why are we talking about it today? Because we here at R.I.P. Los Angeles look at permits. Here’s one:

So SVN Vangaurd, they marketed Pacific Bowl and the adjacent properties like so, in it saying hey, check it out, you can take this—

—and turn it into this:

Note in the permit they get a 37% “density bonus.” That’s what’s known as a zoning variance, but they call it a “bonus” because giving something a happy name will make you feel better about the affair. While there is a maximum legislated size they are allowed by law to build, to hell with that. Plus they get to construct the thing fifteen feet taller than they’re supposed to, because they include some subsidized units.

While we’re on the subject, this brick commercial structure two doors down at 1309 South Pacific, built in the fall of 1932, has some cool Deco detailing. It’s part of the Vanguard plan. Pay your final respects when you get the chance.

Sid Penance via Flickr


  1. The last building you mentioned at 1309 S Pacific Ave was once LaRue’s Drug Store. It was also seen in many movies, primarily inside shots. I grew up around the corner. Sad, perhaps I have lived too long.

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