By Sarah Bennett
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By Jena Ardell
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By Gustavo Arellano
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Temperatures are rising, and everyone's wearing skimpier clothes—even those of us who should exercise a bit more modesty. Here comes summer, Orange County's favorite season, and with it comes all the attendant, delicious imagery: flip-flops, sparkling pools, tropical drinks with tiny umbrellas, sun-bronzed cabana boys. . . . Okay, maybe that last one's just me.
But summer has always signified the good life—insect bites notwithstanding. The weather gets warmer, the sun stays bright later, and everything slows down just a little. This change of lifestyle splashes over to the recreation business, too, as lounge and club promoters have devised ways to bring all those lovely things into one place and overload your senses with summery goodness.
In my ideal world, Saturdays would be spent poolside at Matinee, the weekly club held at the Hotel Menage in Anaheim. Cabanas and lounge chairs surround the hotel's pool (you can call ahead and reserve a spot, but if you get there by 2 p.m., you can usually grab one of the slouchy bean-bag chairs), and the bar is located inside an island-style, thatched-roof patio. If you can't be bothered to actually walk to the bar, the wait staff will happily bring a drink right to you so your lounging can go on uninterrupted. The DJs play a booming mix of techno and house so loud I had a moment of sincere pity for any of the hotel's actual guests, whose windows were shimmying along with the beat. Poor things—oh, look, here comes my mojito!
If Sundays are more your style, the Ilum Ultra Lounge (located inside the Atrium Hotel in Irvine) is hosting a weekly happening called Reflections. Different pool, different city, but more of the same lazy luxury that comes with hotel pool parties. Pulsating music, frosty cocktails and plenty of half-naked people getting drunk in a ritzy Irvine atmosphere—beats watching sports on the boob tube any day.
Pool parties not your thing? Hey, some of us actively avoid skin-cancer-inducing rays, and others are just not bikini-friendly (even after a few piña coladas? Still no? Well, you've got more self-control than I do!). Find solace at the UV-protected and dress-code-enforced Mai Tai Bar, an upstairs, upscale yet non-snooty lounge with a circular balcony overlooking Long Beach's Rainbow Harbor. The night's called Sunday Funday, and the drink special? You guessed it: mai tais, in either traditional or super-fancy slushy styles (like a rum-drenched version of a snow cone). Along with DJs and dancing, happy hour all day and no cover make the Mai Tai Bar an easy destination if you've left your money—and your heart—with those sly cabana boys.
Matinee at the Hotel Menage, 1221 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim. Sat., 1 p.m.; Reflections at the Ilum Ultra Lounge, Atrium Hotel, 18700 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine. Sun., noon; Sunday Funday at the Mai Tai Bar, 97 Aquarium Way, Long Beach. Sun., noon.