Glitz and Glamor Come to Rosarito

Does this story sound familiar? You’re tired of your job, even if you love it, and you decide it’s time to retire. You move (to make sure you won’t go back to work after a few months) to paradise. It’s beautiful, you love it, but you’re bored. So you decide to return to the job you love, but now in a new location. After all, there is only so much beach volleyball and tennis one can play.

This is what Nannette Barbera experienced, and “DIVAS…the Show” was born. Every third weekend of the month until November, a new variety show will be performed in the beautiful plaza of the Mata Ashta Restaurant located in San Antonio Del Mar, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 and 9:00 pm. The patio will be elegantly transformed each month with a new theme, décor, and mood. Future shows will include magic, comedy, burlesque, Motown, variety and more.

Performing on the domed stage the premier weekend is Ninette Terhart (direct from Las Vegas) and local talents, Theresa Mala and Tina Marie. Host Rick Rumbaugh will be on hand to entertain with his own brand of humor, but the main theme of these (and future) glitzy-yet-classy shows is to honor and empower women. And although there are two shows per night, each will have unique costumes (designed by Nannette), tunes, and performances, with each evening culminating in a slam-bang finale, and then dancing to a variety of music until midnight with a local DJ. And there is a special guest appearance, to be announced! This month, Baja Lori Chapin will be on hand to offer tequila tastings.

Nannette is no stranger to staging live entertainment. After 17 years with  Caesar’s Entertainment as Entertainment and Special Events Coordinator, she produced and choreographed  such stellar shows as “Dance Mania,” iCandy” and “Solid Gold Soul,”  as well as the television shows Star Search, Leno and Howie Mandel, among others, and now she’s brought her expertise and abundant energy to Rosarito. Her partner Buford King, who co-produces her shows, accompanied Nannette to Rosarito. When they discovered Mata Ashta after moving to San Antonio Del Mar, Nanette became the Special Events Operator for the property, and does much of its marketing.

Tickets are $20 in advance (PayPal.me/SteveSpradley or at Mata Ashta) and $25 at the door, which includes the show and your first drink. And this is a family-friendly show, so the kids get in for $10. But hey, if you come for the first show you can stay for the second on the same ticket. But that’s not the only great deal. If you mention the Gringo Gazette when purchasing your ticket, you get $5 off. And if you purchase your ticket at Mata Ashta any day before the show date you’re interested in, the Steve’s Special will include a raffle ticket entering you into a drawing for a $50 Mata Ashta gift certificate, to be held every Monday following the shows. Winners will be notified and their names posted on Mata Ashta’s Facebook page. Steve is the owner of Mata Ashta and head of promotions, so I guess he can offer any special he wants to.

There will be a different show each month until November, then after a brief hiatus, during which Nannette will be creating new shows and costumes, the show will return to Mata Ashta next spring.  And Ms. Barbera is always looking for new talent to add to her shows. In addition to looking world-wide for new acts to include into future shows, she is looking for local talent. So if you are a performer of any kind (musician, singer, juggler, comedian, magician…the list goes on and on), please contact her via email at nbarbera2@yahoo.com with a description and video of or link to a video. For more information, email stevemataashta@gmail.com, or phone 1-702-809-1482 or 1-714-606-2646.

Cabaret Casting Call

Ever wondered what it would be like to appear onstage with a really happening band? Sweet Sixx is in need of new entertainers to join them for their Baja Burlesque Show, a sexy variety show. There are several venues and dates; May 18th, June 22nd, and July 27th. Singers, dancers, comedians (c’mon, your friends think you’re funny), burlesque, magicians, jugglers, actors, drag performers, musicians, and more are needed! There will be several shows the first of which is May 18th, so you’d better get a move on. Dust off that trombone, polish those tap shoes, find that magic bunny that got loose in your house two years ago.

For more information, please email sweetsixxduo@gmail.com,  or call 686-230-9933. You may also leave a message at their Facebook site.

Surf’s Up!

Whenever there is a road race in Baja, it always begins in Ensenada. The prime area of Blvd Costero (especially at the Riviera, CEARTE and Museo Carocol) is blocked off, and that’s where the aficianados and the participants alike gather in preparation for the Baja 500, Baja 1000 or the newly reinstated SCORE transpeninsular races.

The hotels are booked solid from Rosarito south to Maneadero, the restaurants and bars are crowded with revelers, and traffic in the city becomes a commuter’s nightmare.

The end result is good business for the hospitality industry and an increase in tax revenue for the city.

The weekend beginning Friday, April 26th marked the beginning of the latest in NORRA’s cross-country desert races. By the time this paper hits the stands on Monday, April 29th, the drivers will be on their way from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, in a very unique race, characterized by diverse classes ranging from antique classics (which may only be outfitted with original equipment – i.e., no special shocks or engine modifications) to balls-to-the-wall fully customized strictly competition jet-fuel guzzling monsters.

The race takes five days to complete. It’s a very expensive prospect. It costs $1,000 to enter. Visitors often bring their families and put them up in hotels. There is a big party at the end of the event that reportedly costs the hosts in excess of $50,000 USD to sponsor. And, of course, the vehicles themselves are expensive, and require maintenance crews, mechanics, spotters, etc.

All in all, it’s like a sailboat race for cars. Y’know, if ya got it, flaunt it.

But I digress. This article is supposed to be about surfing. Who knew that northern Baja (as well as points south) boasts some of the gnarliest surf spots on the west coast?

If you thought surfing was strictly a SoCal, Hawaiian or Australian sport, think again.

Not only does our beloved Baja have some seriously challenging and world-famous surf locales, it also is home to some of the most widely-respected surfboard builders on the planet.

Todos Santos Island, 8 miles east of the Ensenada harbor, accessible by 22-foot pangas or other seaworthy vessels, is flat during much of the year, but becomes a daredevil’s paradise each winter, when swells in excess of 20 feet come roaring in from the Aleutian Islands. Seasoned surfing veterans refer to the breaks at Todos Santos as “Killers.” That’s no joke. The body of one veteran surfer who lost his life attempting to conquer that swell was never found.

Surfers can be seen all along the coast of northern Baja, even at Playa Hermosa, where local surf veteran “Yi-Yo” (Alberto Castro) surfs every morning that swells are high enough to justify suiting up and paddling out.

In fact, there are 2 surf shops right near that beach, one, “Spot Surfo,” on Calle Floresta, between Av Pedro Loyola and Blvd Costero (directly across from the beach camp aptly named “Playa Todos Santos”), and the other, right around the corner on the Blvd, next door to the OXXO. Both shops are owned by the same veteran surfer, whose son is also an enthusiast.

There’s also a dive shop on Calle Macheros, one block off the Avenue: Almar Dive Shop offers equipment for divers and surfers, and also offers certified training for watersports enthusiasts who want to know how to scuba dive.

Not only that, Ensenada boasts some world-renowned surfboard builders, most notably the Arctic Foam Surfboard Factory.

Also, the Orozco Surfboard Factory builds boards for some highly regarded California manufacturers, among them the highly regarded Bessell Surfboards manufacturing enterprise.

The San Miguel Surfboard company is owned by Mario Medel, who prefers the casual living style of Ensenada over the high-stress environment of southern California.

He notes that with his visa, he can go to the U.S. whenever he likes. But he prefers his hometown of Ensenada, where the Gringos come to relax and enjoy the simple life.

Who can blame him?

Rene’s Reopens In New Location

It’s baaaack! There was much celebration this Semana Santa (Easter Week for you Gringos) as the door was finally opened at the new Rene’s Sports Pub with a grand opening three-day celebration this weekend.

For all you newbies, Rene’s Restaurant and Bar was a Rosarito institution, opened in 1924, and the first operational business in the Rosarito area (yes, even before the Rosarito Beach Hotel). The original Rene’s closed its doors several years ago and was later reborn as a casino.

Rene’s was my first Baja bar. After purchasing a house there (right behind the bar) I returned nearly a year later and the bartender remembered me and my drink of choice. I lived in the campo at Rene’s for many years (no drinking and driving for this lady!) That was one brilliant bartender!

Rene “Chato” Ortiz is now continuing the legacy with Rene’s Sports Pub now on Rosarito’s main boulevard, across the street from the Rosarito Beach Hotel, between Banorte and the ice cream parlor. I asked Rene why he decided to open at this location and he replied that he wanted to be in “the historical zone of Rosarito.” Smaller and more intimate than the original, there is comfortable indoor seating for 25 – 30, but all seats have an excellent view of the many televisions, all tuned to a variety of sports (Judge Judy available upon request). Hence the “three-day” grand opening… there simply was not enough room to allow everyone who wanted to participate in this important event to be accommodated in just one day. Outdoor seating will also be available for diners/drinkers.

Speaking of dining, Rene’s opens at 8:00 am (until 9 pm) with a variety of Mexican favorites including soups, birria, beef, and fish tacos, chiles rellenos, and chicken and pork tamales. The bar opens at noon for your imbibing pleasure.

Joining Chato at the bar is Rene Jr and cousin, Oscar Ortiz. And some old familiar faces will be joining in the fun, but you have to stop in and see who they might be. Specialty drinks and Happy Hour times are being determined now (hey, did I mention this is a brand new bar?)

Drop in. Reunite with old friends. I’ve visited several times already (researching this article of course), and always run into an old timer like myself.

Rene explained he is “coming back to the brand” of Rene’s by opening here, close to the original location. But look for a second locale in the future. Rene is contemplating another (bigger) bar with a craft brewery theme, partnering with local craft breweries.

Parking isn’t great, so grab what you can. But don’t grab the blue handicap space unless you have an official placard, and stay out of the designated spaces of nearby businesses. Cops are cracking down on unlawful parking.

Tuesdays With Morrie

How much time do you spend dealing with money? You have to earn it, report it, pay taxes on it, spend or save it, make plans for it, donate it, teach your kids about it, have enough of it to retire, and ultimately spend a huge part of your life dealing with it. Is it worth it?

That is the core question that Morrie Schwartz, a retired sociology professor, discusses with his former student and current friend, Mitch Albom. After graduation, he began working as a sports reporter  for a newspaper and became very successful. Unfortunately, he became so obsessed with his professional career that he nearly destroyed his marriage. His wife felt neglected because of his obsession with his work.

Morrie, according to Mitch Albom’s famous book and the play of the same name, is interviewed by Ted Koppel for the TV show Nightline. Mitch happens to catch it. Plus he is at a turning point. His co-workers at the Detroit Free Press are on strike and consequently he is out of a job. That gives him time to reflect about what Morrie explained to Koppel, namely that most people spend too much time on things that don’t make them happy. He learned that focusing on who you love and nurturing that love is much more important than  the pursuit of money. As they say, “money cannot buy happiness.”

Mitch calls Morrie and arranges to meet with him every Tuesday, which he does for the next 14 weeks. Morrie, who has quickly advancing ALS, lasts that long but finally succumbs to the debilitating disease. Through it all Morrie remains upbeat and insists that ALS gives him time to reflect on his impending death. He has time to contact all those he loves. He can even fairly well predict the progression of his disease and the time he has left to reach out and communicate with all those people in his life who have meant so much to him.

For the Rosarito Theatre Guild’s production of Tuesdays With Morrie, we welcome two veteran actors, Jim Johnson and Colton Dennis, who play Morrie and Mitch respectively.  Jim is currently the Director of the Gallo Center Repertory Company.. The Center for the Performing Arts has, a 1,200 seat theatre which has attracted national shows, including “Cats”, “Evita” and “Shrek: The Musical”.

Colton Dennis is a very experienced actor, who, as a young man in his 30’s, is perfect for his role as Mitch. He is  an actor, director and co-artistic director of Patterson Repertory Theatre. He has performed with numerous other companies in the Central Valley.

Jim and Colton have performed several times together,  and their collaboration has resulted in a really stimulating one-act performance.

Performances are May 9th and 10th at 7 pm,  with matinees  at 2 pm on May 11th and 12th. For information call 664-631-3320 or visit www.rosaritotheatre.org. Tickets can be purchased through PayPal.

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