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
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.
A weekly Friday-night happening, Mute crams as many artists, musicians and scenesters into Proof as it possibly can. First of all, the space is exquisite, and it couldn't be set up or decorated any more seductively, with its risqué artwork and well-planned lighting. Plush black couches and lots of seating give clubgoers a fighting chance to grab someplace to chill and people-watch. A rotating set of DJs inside and out on the patio keep the music as fresh as can be. The bar gets progressively crowded as the night goes on, so order drinks two at a time. At Proof, 215 N. Broadway, Santa Ana; www.proofbar.com.
For more than 23 years, Hennessey's has been the watering hole of choice for Seal Beach locals. Keeping in Irish tradition, Hennessey's has a love for all things Guinness and getting its patrons absolutely schnockered. Weekends get bumpin' with beach folk and college kids, but the weekdays belong to a calmer crowd. 143 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 598-6456.