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Ballroom Battle

Doin' the hustle in Hollywood

THU 9/6

If reality television shows measure the temperature of the nation, then ballroom dancing may be hotter then a malaria patient in a sweater. On ABC's Dancing with the Stars, celebrities were paired with professional dancers to train and compete, while Fox's So You Think You Can Dance? was an American Idol-styled dance competition. This week at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa (3555 S. Ocean Dr., Hollywood) you can see what all the excitement is about, as thousands of contestants from across the country converge to tango, cha cha, hustle, and waltz their way to ballroom immortality at the United States Dance Sport Championships.

The five-day event includes dozens of professional and amateur categories. Don't expect to see any popping, locking, cabbage-patching, or people getting served (that's b-boy lingo, you know), but there will be plenty of flamboyantly attired men tossing around scantily clad women.

The event starts Tuesday and runs through Sunday. Tickets to individual sessions cost $20 to $70. Call 310-544 4636, or visit www.usdsc.com. -- Paul A. Leone

Get the Mets

Marlins continue playoff charge

FRI 9/2

After an aggressive offseason in which they picked up several of baseball's most coveted free agents, the New York Mets are poised to finish this season with their best record since 2001 -- though that's still at the bottom of the National League East barrel. It's difficult to feel sorry for them, as all five NL East teams go into the home stretch a hot month away from playoff contention or a slump away from the cellar. With 25 of the Marlins' final 29 games against divisional foes, September's stretch will separate the pretenders from the contenders. The playoff drive starts this Friday at 7:35 p.m. when the Mets visit for a three-game set at Dolphins Stadium (2269 NW 199th St., Miami). Call 305-623-6100, or visit www.floridamarlins.com. -- Paul A. Leone

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Paul A. Leone

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