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Feature Article: The Silver Starlite Orchestra at Pavinci Italian Grill, Hopatcong, NJ. - A Review and Appreciation

If you know to respond with “How about you?” when the singer pauses after “I Like New York in June,” then you’ll enjoy an evening of dinner and dancing to the Silver Starlite Orchestra appearing the third Tuesday of the month at Pavinci Italian Grill in Hopatcong, NJ. The 20-piece big band, featuring vocalists Jimmy Mastrull and Shelli Latorre, provides a wonderful evening whenever they appear, with their themed shows including “Swing, Swing, Swing,” “Songs of Our Favorite Girl Singers,” “Sentimental Journey,” and “Cool Swing.” 

Pavinci’s dance floor is one step down from the dining area, inspiring one 70+ year old dancer to hop off the step the most recent night we were there, so excited was he to dance to the music of Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller Orchestra type songs. 

The Italian specialties have always been good, but I usually save the zuppa di pesce for a non-dancing dinner since I find its difficult to manage shellfish and linguine with the up and down from the table that the Silver Starlite Orchestra inspires. It’s hard to get John to put down his fork when his dinner is in front of him, so a simple red snapper or salmon filet is the better choice to maximize dancing time. A dinner reservation at 7 pm makes for good timing so you will have eaten your salad before the band starts at 7:30. They take their own dinner break from 8:30 to 9 which is when we like to go out on the deck overlooking Lake Hopatcong and watch the moon, the ducks and some diners returning to their boats for their ride home. Why anyone would want to eat outside or in the back dining room while there is dancing in the main dining room is beyond our comprehension. 

At 9 pm the band has started up again and we are lured back inside when we hear “I Only Have Eyes for You.” The dance floor comfortably holds ten or so couples. The really good dancers showed off their cha cha and rumba to songs like “Ojos Verdes” though foxtrot and swing dances comprise most of the evening. The music also attracted couples who had come to Pavinci’s just to have a drink at the bar, but the music called them in to dance. 

We’ve taken hundreds of hours of lessons and we’re serious about having a good dance so we never really have much conversation while we are on the dance floor. Except this time, when the band did a medley starting with “As Time Goes By,” and I innocently remarked, “Was this from Casablanca? I don’t remember that it had music.” That set off John, the movie buff, who then held forth through the entire medly, beginning with his opening statement, “What? It had a lot of music. I can tell you five songs right now without even thinking very hard. “As Time Goes By,” - that's the famous one. There was La Marseillaise, the French national anthem. The Germans were singing some song that they drowned out with the anthem. Dooley Wilson also sang a song with the lyric "because my hair is curly." There was a Carmen Miranda-ish woman singer with the band that does a song with a big guitar solo. And "knock on wood" There are probably more in the flashback scenes in Paris and at Rick's.” 

Later, with the help of the Internet, I also recalled “The Very Thought of You" and "It Had to Be You." 

Then we did a lovely waltz to “Always” When the next song that the band played was Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” John remarked, “They must be in the single word song section.” 

I guess we did a nice job with the waltz since someone remarked, as we left the dance floor, “You won the prize. “ John said, under his breath, “I didn't realize it was a competition but it’s an honor just to be nominated.” 

As we returned to our seats, when the music finished at 10 pm, the woman at the next table said “You dance so well. It’s nice to see young people enjoying dancing.” John muttered, “Yeaaaah. We're not so young.” And we paid the bill and left. 

Pavinci’s offers live entertainment and DJ music every week. If your preference runs to Latin music, Classic rock, Top 40s, Blues, Soul, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or Doo-Wop, you’ll find your evening on the entertainment schedule at www.pavinci.com/entertainment.htm

The Silver Starlite Orchestra will be back at Pavinci’s August 16th and September 20th 2011. Follow the music at http://www.silverstarliteorchestra.com.

By Lisa Skriloff, www.dancetravelnews.com