Where to Get Hammered

Back-to-School Night Spots

CHAIN REACTION
If you can read this, you may be the oldest person in the room. This all-ages venue is rapidly becoming the place to see up-and-coming talent as well as indie bands gigging through town. Just about anyone you find here is as close to a music purist as you'll find in this town. That's good if, like myself, you rate the opposite sex on their musical knowledge. 1652 W. Lincoln Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 635-6067. FOOTHILL
One of the coolest clubs in the Long Beach area. The Foothill has great seating, which is important if you want to get sexy while everyone else is mixing on the dance floor. Drinks are cheap, strong and big. The Foothill also has great nights for hippies, mods, pseudo-anarchists and just about every other genre. 1922 Cherry Ave., Signal Hill, (562) 494-5196. GYPSY DEN CAFE & READING ROOM
(Sunday nights) During the day, the Gypsy Den is a coffeehouse with an interesting flea-market interior design and great food, but every Sunday night, tables are pushed into the corners and Orange County's chunky, spectacled hippest wake up from Saturday night's debauchery. The vibe is very low-key. Come off too strong, and you'll risk looking like a horny Greek. Look arty and bring required reading from your literature class. And come alone-for some reason, brooders who look like they're plotting world conspiracies do well here. In the Lab, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 549-7012. HOGUE BARMICHAEL'S
Conveniently located near UC Irvine, this quasi-meat market has slowly gained scenester credibility by booking good local bands. Call before you go: I've been to an "Asian Night," where I felt like Flounder in Animal House. Put on your Dockers and a Greek sweatshirt, bring an extra $20 for drinks, and expect a sure thing. 3950 Campus Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 261-6270. JUKE JOINT
What a difference new investors with good taste make. Last year, this place was a skanky sports bar; this year, it's the premier club of Long Beach. Plush interior like Elvis' Cadillac and model-types galore. Dress well or be embarrassed. If you can score here, you can score anywhere. But a word of advice: the girls here may look like Betty Page, but they body punch like Leon Spinks. 3325 Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 597-0014. KOO'S ART CAFE
Thrift shoppers of the world, unite! Bonus points if you have a beat-style Vandyke or political tattoos. Everyone here has a cause, and you should, too: it'll impress everyone and paint you as a sensitive, artsy type. Also a good place to meet radicals. No alcohol, but there's enough angst to give you a Guinness ulcer. Tip: if you strike out with the opposite sex, word gets around, and you're finished here. 1505 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 648-0937. LINDA'S DOLL HUT
A couple I know met here and got married one year later. Like Chain Reaction, this is a good place to meet radicals like yourself. The club's unpretentiousness and simplicity weed out the kids who want to get laid from the ones who want to have a beer and watch aggressive indie bands. 107 S. Adams, Anaheim, (714) 533-1286. MEMPHIS
(Saturday nights) Two words: "fucking" and "cool." Most evenings, this swinging eatery caters to locals with money who are too lazy to cook. But every Saturday night, the former dive a-swirl with the ghosts of long-dead barflies turns into a bona fide bar where local garage/surf/soul bands bash out three-minute lo-fi tunes. The crowd is as sharp as a dog collar's spikes, and the cliques can be as impregnable as they were in high school. But with the right haircut and a cosmopolitan's knowledge of the import-beer market, you'll do fine. 2920 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-SOUL. OFF CAMPUS PUB
It may be cheesy, the music may be bad, and the drinks may be pricy, but this Cal State Fullerton mainstay stuffs the co-eds in like no other bar in the area. The trick here is to avoid looking too smart or too sharp. Think too much and dress too well, and people will plot against you because you're throwing off the sex curve. Nobody likes an overachiever. T-shirts and jeans only. 2736 Nutwood Ave., Fullerton, (714) 879-8094. QUE SERA
How I wish I lived closer to this Cal State Long Beach mecca. Not only is the music top-notch (electronica, industrial, pop, experimental), but the aura of hedonism and poor lighting also make for a fantastic evening. 1923 E. 7th St., Long Beach, (562) 599-6170.

 
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