Oldest electronic/techno specialty store in OC. This is the spot to pick up new mixes, test out new sampling techniques, gobble up piles of rave fliers—some you might actually want to go to—and chat up owner Ron D Core, an expert spinner in his own right. The Lab, 2930 Bristol St., Ste. A109, Costa Mesa, (949) 545-8811.


Cambodian hip-hopper from Long Beach who drops eloquent rhymes about the horrors of growing up during the time of the genocidal-bent Khmer Rouge. Sample lyrics:

"They laugh like jackal/These assholes dressed in black/Strip me butt naked/Then tie my hand behind my back/Told me to choose one, the gun or the axe/They say I was guilty of rebelling against the revolution/Told me I got three seconds, then they're gonna start shootin'/On the count of one, I pray for my soul/On the count of two, for my family and my people/On the count of three, I was dressed in red/I took two shots to the head and [was] left for dead."


A jazzer's dream room, Steamers has been largely responsible for putting the words "Fullerton" and "nightlife" together, something unfathomable just a decade ago. Steamers differs from most jazz clubs in that their main interest is in serving music, as opposed to other rooms that offer up music and dinner—places where the performers are relegated to mere background noise by the time the appetizers arrive. Steamers is cozy and intimate, so much so that when regulars such as Joey DeFrancesco, Ron Eschete or Ron Kobayashi are locked in their groove, you can almost envision what it must have been like in those smoky old New York jazz clubs of the 1940s and '50s. Don't get too caught up in the moment, though—like everywhere else, there's no smoking allowed. 138 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-8800.


When it's finally dark and cool outside, the hipsters wiggle in for a dry martini or two. But the Continental is dark and cool inside from the moment it opens, and if you slink in during the late afternoon, you'll find the perfect pre-sundown place to be alone—in decadently plush surroundings—with your problems, drinking or otherwise. The mixes come nice and strong; the prices are a privilege when there's no one around but you and the bartender; and the silent, soothing ambience in priceless. Next time you want to start a bender with a slow burn, you've gotta make sure to kick it off at the Continental. 115 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-4529.


We remember Vinyl Solution from when it was Zed Records in Long Beach. Or Middle Earth Records in Downey. Or Aaron's, a long time ago in LA, before it got so hep. Point being Vinyl Solution is one of the few indie record stores left where the real punk is waiting, hibernating, hunkered-down, looking for a chance to take over your kids' minds. Or, more likely, hoping they'll discover it when they find out that Good Charlotte really, really, REALLY sucks. Their selection, of course, is broader; we'd hope to find anything from Echo & the Bunnymen to the Cramps to the Pixies, the Replacements on—platters that matter from, oh, 1976 or so on. Do yourself a favor and check 'em out. As our friend the record collector says, "It's not their fault that punk broke." 18822 Beach Blvd., Ste. 104, Huntington Beach, (714) 963-1819.


Don't let its unassuming exterior of Club Obsessions fool you: OC's most intriguing clientele are waiting for you inside the Frat House's velvet-curtained doorway. Whether you go to dance with the topless trannies—and we're not talking Tim Curry in Rocky Horror here; some of these women look amazing—or to shoot pool with your voyeur pals, the environment is welcoming, endlessly entertaining and the ultimate in sinful indulgence. Don't miss the backroom, where the bartenders are decked out as barmaids—literally. 8112 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 373-FRAT.


I drove by the Avalon Bar every Monday for an entire month and never knew it was there. And while that might have something to do with the fact that the bar is closed on Mondays, it doesn't change the fact that this unmarked bar directly across the street from Detroit is home to one of the best soul nights in OC, Avalon Soul. DJs Angelina—and let's face it: chicks who spin are just too hot!—Jason Valdez and Sean drop everything from Nina Simone to Parliament to Herbie Hancock, sustaining a mellow grove that perfectly compliments Avalon's absolutely decadent key-lime-pie martinis. There's not much space for dancing, but with a classic, inviting plaid couch and luscious black-leather seats, there is plenty of room for coy stares, sly smiles and smooth conversation. Aww, yeah. 820 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 515-4650.


For those burnt out on beach-and-beer bars, a trip to the Bamboo Terrace—home to the rising club the Program—is a small vacation in hipster paradise. But don't worry if you're just an average Betty: with Chinese newsprint papering the walls, dim red lighting, and posters of Chinese pinup women, the bar effectively captures an opium den aura without the slightest hint of pretentiousness. If you have the chance, have the bartender Debbie's mother, Kathy, whip you up a mojito. One or two of these criminally addicting glasses of goodness and you'll be dancing with a cute thrift-store-threaded cutie in no time. 1773 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 645-5550.

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