Lets Get Physical

Beware the Pinnochian underworld of Ocean Brewing Co.

Photo by Jessica CalkinsUpon boarding my return flight from Chicago to LAX last Sunday, I recalled the lessons I'd learned during my brief pilgrimage to the Midwest: 1) beer tastes good; 2) red meat does, too; and 3) tailgating for four hours in 31 degree weather is not only a splendid way to bump into that cold you've been avoiding, but also an insanely masochistic pastime that will doubtlessly leave historians perplexed 2,000 years from now. Kind of like Newlyweds.

See, in a momentary lapse of judgment, I'd arranged an achingly fast-paced visit to my alma mater in South Bend, Indiana so that I could crash on my ex-boyfriend's couch, drink bucketloads of beer and maybe—circumstances permitting—score a ticket to watch Notre Dame beat Navy for the 40th consecutive time. I accomplished all but one.

Still, for all the fun I had while catching up with Luke and my best pals John and George, consuming copious quantities of Keystone Light-boiled brats and idly watching the game on TV, as the plane ascended above Chi-town, I was left with a small problem. I now had to write 1,200 words about my previous week, and the boss man had informed me that simply writing about my mini-vacation down memory lane was not an option.

Fortunately, before I'd left, I received an e-vitation from devoted Clubbed! reader Brandy to head down to the Tuesday night '80s party at Ocean Brewing Co. in Laguna Beach. He'd been raving about the South County action for weeks, sending an e-mail every Wednesday morning detailing the previous night's antics, sometimes offering visual proof of them with pictures of wig-sporting, head-banded young men who were clearly having the times of their lives while dancing to White Snake. Or Poison, maybe.

I had but one option: to don my far-more-frequently-used-than-you'd-imagine leg warmers, gym shorts and Footloosetank top and get physical!

Of course, one barfly does not a Clubbed! adventure make, so I recruited fearless photographer Jessica—who went all-out with matching stone-washed threads, bright white sneakers and a sky-high side ponytail—and frequent Clubbed! cohorts Hudson and Ryan. Hudson, for his part, at least attempted an '80s look with an Addidas shirt. But Ryan did not dress up at all, and his future invitations are currently under review.

Then again, perhaps someone had tipped him off to the fact that this was an '80s club in disguise because other than the lad in a white leisure suit who had clearly confused his Travolta costumes—Staying Alive is what you wanted, yo—everyone else in line outside the bar was dressed, well, normally. Which is to say they were going for something at least vaguely hot, as opposed to my getup, which, judging from their glances, was decidedly not.

Oh, but then we went inside and immediately encountered an absolutely smashed—and smashing, literally, what with all flailing she was doing—woman on the dance floor who clearly believed the bar to be a wormhole back to the Me decade. With her eyes closed and her arms flung around her mister—albeit her mister of the moment, as we'd soon learn—she was so euphorically wasted it appeared she actually believed she was at her senior prom, a prom queen runner-up who'd been diving underneath tables and secretly sipping from her football-captain boyfriend's flask the whole night.

After a brief trip to the bar—fantastic times always call for dire measures; I ordered us a round of Jäger shots and some pints of the Ocean Brewing Co.'s Ocean Pale Ale—we returned to the dance floor and busted a move to Young MC. The enchanting drunk lady was still going strong—thrown over the shoulder of a new partner by this point—but my attention became focused on a group of late-thirtysomething suits dancing behind me with a slightly younger but equally business-attired blonde. As I detected the faint bass lines of the intro to "White Lines" coming on in the mix, it appeared these folks were also using the bar as a personal portal back to the times of Tab and trickle-down. That or they were just rehearsing the closing number to Wall Street—The Musical.

With visions of a tap-dancing Charlie Sheen racing through my head, I returned to my friends, only to find that Jessica was now perched next to the DJ, snapping photos of him posing with his Robert Palmer album, and that Ryan had fled to the bar, leaving Hudson prey to mercilessly gratuitous ass-slaps from soused female dancers-by. It was at this point I realized just how tanked everyone at the bar was, an observation that was fairly puzzling until Ryan showed up at my side two minutes later with a pint of red liquid in his hand.

Foolishly, I took a sip before asking what it was. My penance? I gagged. "It's a Long Beach iced tea," he informed me, smiling as I winced and uncontrollably returned to the straw. A somewhat sweet and fruity concoction of all things alcoholic, it was the same drink, now that I looked around, that about a dozen other gals were drinking. I began to feel as though Brandy had roped me into some sort of Pinnochian, here-drink-this-and-turn-into-an-'80s-dancing-donkey underworld.

Thirty minutes later, the pint was empty and the second Michael Jackson song of the evening was on. Having some years ago undertaken the immensely dorky task of learning all the moves to the "Thriller" music video—as well as "Beat It," for what it's worth—I now proceeded to demonstrate to the drunk lady, the dancing suits and the rest of the bar just how superior I was at making little scary monster arms and shuffling back and forth. And I was! Because when you're at Ocean Brewing Co. and you've had a pint of their red stuff, you really do became whomever it is you want to be. Even if it's Michael Jackson.

This week, jump on the party wagon Thursday, Nov. 14, in Long Beach as Club 49 presents Pink, still another night of '80s music—but this time with all the hot city college chicks who are linked to the club on Friendster. On Friday, if you're not catching the Willowz at 51 Buckingham in Pomona or John Doe Thingat the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana, then head to the thrift store and buy a new cardigan for Saturday's Death Cab for Cutie show at the Glass House—the perfect nearer alternative to Josh Rouse's show at the Troubadour that same night. On Sunday, head over to Detroit for a show by Elefant and Vale. If by Monday you are all rocked-out, then take a tip from Kevin from Fielding and head over to the Liquid Lounge—no, not the club, but rather the dive bar in Long Beach, who knew?—and feast on dirt-cheap pitchers. And you'll need to save your money because on Tuesday, The Anniversaryplays Chain Reaction, while John spins an eclectic mix of ear-ecstasy at Kitsch Bar. Finish strong on Wednesday: stay in with a sixer, and practice your best "Beat It" dance-off moves. You'll need them should you ever come across me on the Ocean Brewing Co. dance floor. Bring it!

I need a life! Invite me out!

egriley@ocweekly.com.

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