Its Only Rock & Roll

Spontaneity rules at Memphis Cafes Easy Rider

Photo by Tenaya HillsIt had been on my calendar for months: one of the Pike's not-quite-secret Pirate Parties, held in Long Beach on the fifth Saturday of every month fortunate to be graced by a fifth Saturday, featuring pirate music courtesy of a full-fledged pirate band and guaranteed to shake your pirate booty. Hee. Only upon calling to confirm the soiree last Friday, I discovered it had been rescheduled for the following weekend. Evidently, pirates like to observe Memorial Day just like we land-leggers.

Fortunately, my photog pal Tenaya knew of something going on that night at the Memphis Café at the Santora in Santa Ana. Easy Rider, the bar's first-and-third-Saturday rock & roll club, was hosting Düsseldorf Rock, a special, one-night-only goodbye party for soon-to-be-ex-pats/fun in a bucket/match made in geek-love heaven Meghan and Dereck. Perfect.

Now, a note about rock & roll clubs: they can essentially be held wherever there's an untouched jukebox from 1988, cheap draft beer and a bar owner willing to turn a blind eye toward his lack of a cabaret license. But lest you be a fan of crashing out-of-the-way dives and listening to overworked, emphysema-destined patrons recount the night they saw Primus open for Rush in '93—totally acceptable in my book, by the way—then it's recommended you leave the dirty work to Easy Rider DJ Jed and his hard-rocking conspirators, Ryan and Jeremiah.

Upon arriving at Memphis, I was greeted by a mojito, some James Brown and a demand from KUCI-FM's Steve Sherlock that I refer to him as "Steve Fucking Sherlock" (done) and plug his soundtrack-only radio show on Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. (and done). These were chased rather quickly by another mojito, some vaguely Stevie Ray Vaughn-ish tunes, a song by the Faint and another demand—this one from the guest of honor, Meghan—that I dance. The bar normally closed at around midnight, she explained, but the owner, Dan, had promised to stay open if enough people showed up and danced. I opened my mouth to politely decline, but it was too late: Meghan had already fled to the makeshift dance floor, where Dereck and another friend were on their hands and knees, laying the foundation for a human pyramid. Of course.

What with the bar's lack of a pyramid-building license and all—insert Abu Ghraib joke here in extremely poor taste—I worried that Dan would break up the fun, but for naught: by the time the B-52's "Private Idaho" gave way to New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle," the pyramid toppled, and Dereck, having jumped into the arms of another man, was now ice-dancing, only, you know, on a hardwood floor.

It's likely that many of these antics—as well as some of the music selections; Britney Spears' "Slave 4 U," a Le Tigre remix and some Jamiroquai followed later—were, as had been promised, special to this night only's Düsseldorf-inspired (in one way or another, I'm sure) extravaganza. But toward the end of the night, as the crowd moved outside to watch, of course, as Meghan and Dereck beat up their goodbye piñata, I concluded that this freeform celebration of spontaneity was what made Easy Rider so enjoyable. One can only hope that next week, when the club returns to its regularly scheduled night of rock & roll, even more people will attend to fill the gap left by Meghan and Dereck's sorely missed departure.

Easy Rider rolls into Memphis Café at the Santora, 201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 564-1064. Every first & third Fri., 10 p.m.-when they kick you out. Free. 21+; And don't miss the rescheduled Pirate Party at the Pike, 1836 Fourth St., Long Beach, (562) 437-4453. Sat. Call for time and cover. 21+.

 
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