By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
By day, it's a family-friendly steak joint, but when the sun goes down, the Prospector turns into one of the hippest nightspots in Long Beach. Actually, when the sun goes way, waaay down; most bands don't take the stage until 10:30 p.m. or so. The setup isn't the best if you want to see any bands (the stage is in the back corner), but there's a great sound system and the drinks are cheap—so's the cover! The Prospector gets super-packed, so you'll have to squeeze your way to the bar, but it's a great way to meet new friends. Saturdays get amazingly crazy, but Tuesdays are best for Pull Your Pants Up. 2400 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 438-3839.
You know that big pink monstrosity of a hotel on the corner of PCH and Second? Well, on the inside, there's actually a pretty decent nightspot called Sachi. They have '80s cover band the Spazmatics on Saturdays, and Fridays are saved for hip-hop DJs. The crowd is college-cute-casual, so it's a great last-minute destination if you're in the area. Last time we went, there was ice cream on the patio. There's usually a line to get in, so arrive early. At the Seaport Marina Hotel, 6400 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 252-8434; www.myspace.com/sachibar.
The Secret Affair
Alex's Bar travels back in time the first Friday of the month with this swingin' '60s party. DJs spin northern soul, boogaloo, garage and Mod. The dress code is hip, hip, hip (boys: wear your tightest pants; girls: the more leg, the better), and people on the dance floor are actually doing the Twist, so brush up on the moves from your parents' era. Fun bonus: Alex's has a photo booth to capture the drunken good time you're sure to have in an old-skool black-and-white strip. At Alex's Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com.
All those post-raver kids can find their monthly dose of techno and electro at Que Sera every first Friday. The cover is cheap, but it's free for those bearing a bra donation. Donation to whom? Couldn't tell you, but it's a gimmick and a name that's not easily forgotten. The crowd is stylish, but feel free to break out those huge pants and Power Puff Girl backpacks, if you really want to. At Que Sera, 1923 E. Seventh St., Long Beach.
Every Thursday night, Fury turns into a knockout of a destination. The huge, beautifully decorated lounge area and equally impressive bar make this nightspot a visual delight, bathed in red and blue lighting. Most unusual is the high class of patrons (dress code strictly enforced; suits are not uncommon), yet snobbery is nowhere to be found. The DJs spin magic with Top 40, dance and old-school remixes and mash-ups. The dance floor could be bigger, but Eclipse is a great place to see and be seen. At Fury, 4221 Dolphin Striker Way, Newport Beach; www.myspace.com/furylounge.
Held on the second floor at Kantina, essenChill is a Thursday-night lounge with a spectacular view. It caters to the thin, good-looking and rich Newport crowd. Resident DJ Danny Love spins sultry groove, but unfortunately there's no dance floor. Drinks are tasty but overpriced. The muscle-bound bartender won't bother with you until you've ordered several shots of Patron, and yes, keep the tab open. Only then will you get the flirty smile and the pecs flex. At Kantina, 2406 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 673-1400.
The District is one long room that gets packed to the brim on weekends, mostly with Chapman college kids. The bar is located near the entrance, but the DJ or band (depending on the night) is toward the back, which can be tricky. On the plus side, you get to check out the crowd as you wade through the masses. The vibe is chill and casual, we don't think there's a dress code, and there's no cover. If it gets too crowded, there are some great dive bars next door. 223 W. Chapman Ave., Orange; www.thedistrictlounge.com.
Paul's is one of the best dives around. It's chill during the day, with the locals watching sports and shooting pool, drinking cocktails and Pabst in cans. Nights are laid-back, too, but only during winter break. You see, Paul's is right by Chapman University, which means every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night belongs to the twentysomething crowd, and it gets absolutely packed starting around 11 p.m. By far, Paul's has the best smoking patio in Orange County, with a huge open space, ventilation fans and several places to sit. It's so rare that people can enjoy a cigarette with a cold beer these days. 207 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 639-2480.
The ultimate in skeezy awesomeness, this is the place to go if you feel like slummin' it. The best nights are Fridays and Saturdays, where you can catch Eddie Day, the Fling's one-man cover band. If there's no room at the bar, have a seat at any of the brown-vinyl booths along the walls, which are covered in '70s red wallpaper. The bartenders and waitresses are super-sweet, and smoking cigarettes is warmly welcomed. Open at 6 a.m., the Fling is totally charming (in a toothless-white-trash kind of way), and not a single person is going to pass judgement on what you're wearing—or drinking. 2370 N. Tustin Ave., Ste. D, Santa Ana, (714) 547-8972.