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Photo by Tenaya HillsThink of them as casualties of war: Lake Forest's the Drink. Huntington Beach's Therapy. Big Andy's in Costa Mesa. The Matrix in Brea. And these are just the bars. There's also the innumerable fallen clubs—McClure's Verve Tuesdays and Bar 330's Totally '80s Sundays. And these are from just this year alone. Here in Orange County, it's not unheard-of for a club to host a grand opening and farewell party in the span of five hours. So how is it that this Saturday, club promoter Daniel Sanchez celebrates the four-year anniversary of his Club Addiction?
It would be easy to pin the answer on his garrulous demeanor, or on his extensive background as a DJ, or on dumb luck. But even Sanchez, who recently watched another one of his clubs, the aforementioned Totally '80s, suffocate under bottom-line pressure from management at Bar 330, hasn't figured out a surefire method for success. But in the case of Club Addiction, he's learned how to survive.
Inspired both by the clubs he'd frequented during the '80s (namely, Orange County's Studio K and Cloud Nine), as well as his favorite bands (he selected the name after hearing a song on the radio by Jane's Addiction), Sanchez opened Club Addiction on Memorial Day weekend 2000 after four months of fliering and Internet promotion. The venue? A strip club—Sandraella's in Anaheim, as the country-and-western-themed club was known then, although it looked much different once he was through with it.
"I would get there at noon and cover every wall with a black sheet and cover the whole [strippers'] stage with sheets, and then have a video projector playing videos against the sheets," he explains. "You wouldn't recognize that it was a strip club."
On opening night, after spending more than $700 on movie posters; lighting; music videos; and CDs and Rubix cubes for giveaways, he watched as 225 people showed, paid $5 at the door, and skip-danced, pogoed and shook the night away—all in a converted strip club with a capacity of 200 and average attendance of about 20.
Addiction was an instant success, and the club was held biweekly for five months until the strip-club owner realized her bar license didn't cover the 18-to-21 crowd. "My idea of an '80s club was always to have it be 18 and over," he explains. "The last thing I wanted was to turn away people."
When Sanchez moved the club to Westminster's Maxim a little more than a week later, his crowd followed. After a year, he was forced to move again, this time receiving word of the bar's closure just hours before he was scheduled to open the doors. He stood in the parking lot for five hours, personally greeting everyone who showed up with an invitation to his e-mail list and a promise the club would re-launch soon.
When Sanchez finally stumbled across Downey's Hully Gully—after seeing the bar listed in the Weekly, no less—he knew he had struck gold: "It was 18 and over, more central to both Orange County and LA, and had two full bars. I thought, 'This is going to work.'"
Sanchez figures the club's proximity to LA—where every corner seems graced by an '80s club—only served to show off the advantages of his club. "In Hollywood, you'll pay to park, pay to get in, and then pay for a drink, and you've already spent $20," he notes. "What I'm providing is the ultimate '80s experience. We know what people want and provide it: free parking, inexpensive drinks. And we take requests."
In keeping with his stellar record, Sanchez has planned a knock-'em-dead bash for this Saturday's four-year anniversary, featuring three tribute bands (The Gabba Gabba Heys, a Ramones tribute; Exploding Boy, a Cure tribute; and the Monsters, an everything-'80s tribute); ticket giveaways from the Galaxy Concert Theatre and the Coach House; and sets from his resident DJ of three years and best friend, DJ Nelson. The bar will even stay open until 4 a.m., so that people can "wind down and dance [the booze] off and enjoy the whole night, so when they drive home, they'll be feeling more safe."
And it's perhaps gestures such as these, products of Sanchez's personal touch, that are responsible for his success and Club Addiction's loyal following—more than a few of whom still flash the membership cards he fashioned from Garbage Pail Kids trading cards for the club's grand opening. "Every year on the anniversary, I give someone who has been there from the beginning a lifetime pass," he says. "There's always been someone who has supported me."Club Addiction, featuring the Gabba Gabba Heys, Exploding Boy and the Monsters, celebrates its four-year anniversary at the Hully Gully, 9559 E. Imperial Hwy., Downey, (562) 803-8845. Sat., 9 p.m.-4 a.m. (Bands start at 11:30 p.m.). $10. 18+.