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The clock is poised to strike 8, and as businesses along East César Chávez Avenue and Mott Street in Boyle Heights shutter their doors, streetlights illuminate a three-story red brick building where the party is just warming up.
Or, you could say, the Paramount Ballroom is rekindling the good times that caught fire eight decades ago.
Little by little, pachucos, swingers, break dancers, cumbiamberos and punks stroll out from the four corners of the neighborhood to meet at the historic dance hall, where everyone from Benny Goodman to Stevie Wonder, Sonny and Cher to Da Brat and La Santa Cecilia, have lit up the night and filled up the dance floor. A local punk rock band, a cumbia ensemble, a breakout Spanish-language pop artist or a jazz quartet might transfix the room at any given moment.
What happens here can’t be described with words but must be felt “with the rhythm of the body,” patrons say. But the dream of reviving the Paramount wouldn’t have been realized at all if not for an immigrant boy, Frank Acevedo, who grew up poor in L.A.’s Rampart district yearning for more places where low-income youths could find a community resource center, an education annex and a Latino party central — all rolled into one.
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