Best Of :: Bars & Clubs
Strip joints (or gentlemen’s clubs, for you euphemism-lovers) fall into two general categories. One is the ritzy emporium of fantasy in which 99 percent of the “exotic” dancers look like airbrushed, silicone- and collagen-enhanced Victoria’s Secret models; where the cover charge is steep, the drinks are overpriced and security guards stand poised to pounce should you touch the merchandise. The other is the down-market, funkier hotbox of writhing female flesh at which the talent is not as pulchritudinous, but the dancers work harder for el dinero than their more attractive (and usually more blasé) counterparts. California Girls in Santa Ana represents the second category. With a minimal cover charge, California Girls allows its horny male patrons to stuff more bills inside the thongs of the young, flexible women contorting erotically for their pleasure. The room is bathed in blood-red lighting that casts an aptly sleazy glow to the proceedings. (The VIP room—where lap dances go for $20 a pop, so to speak—is even darker, for obvious reasons.) The DJs spin a generally rambunctious series of mainstream hip-hop tracks, glazed with misogynistic lyrics—plenty of “bitch,” “ho,” “ass” and other carnal references (this is the only context in which this music sounds good)—while repeatedly cajoling you to “give it up” for Cassandra, Essence or Mandy. “If you came here with no money, you came to the wrong place, gentlemen,” the DJ hectors. Such honesty is refreshing: You, dude, are basically a wallet with a hard-on. Now start peeling off those dead presidents. The California Girls girls are mostly 6s and 7s as opposed to the 8s and 9s you might see at Fritz That’s Too, but they have serious moves and can work a pole with panache. Most of ’em can’t afford boob jobs yet, and believe it or not, that’s a plus. These women are real (or less fake), and their sense of entitlement to your wad of cash is less obvious than it is among the near-nude staff in the swankier palaces. At California Girls, the dancers’ skin is smoother than butter and they smell like lilac and the slightest hint of musk. Although the small talk will be kind of painful and awkward (face it, you’re no Jon Stewart, either), the dancing is athletic, informed by a desperation to better their stations in life. All strip joints are predicated on false assumptions and delusions, obviously, but clubs that avoid the pretension that the whole enterprise is somehow “classy” are ultimately less frustrating than the ones that come over all snooty about the debased charade of leaving libidinous men with blue balls and bluer moods.
Lets just sayand why not?that as younger person, you were in a seven-piece rock band: two guitars, bass, drums, vocals and a horn line, all amplified, all played at high volume. After being kicked out of every members garage by either an angry mother, or a cop at the behest of an angry neighbor, you ended up finding a home in the garage of your drummer, where the seven of you, gear included, packed into a cluttered, cold, wet space that you shared with a washer and dryer, as well as a broken-down, rusted-out 1973 Buick. Oh, how you pined for a decent practice space. Too bad you didnt know about Gemini Studios. Its a 24-hour lockoutmusician lingo for a building where you can practice whenever the hell you want toowned and operated by Cal State Fullerton grad Luke Allen. Musicians will need to jump through the usual rental hoopscontract, security deposit, basic rules and regsbut once the business stuff is out of the way, its time to get down to the business of rockin out! Three studio sizes are available: 200 square feet will cost you $595 per month (just 85 bucks apiece, if theres seven of you!), 150 square feet is $525, and 100 will cost you $445all with AC, the freedom to decorate, insurance, free DSL and, most important, 24-hour access. Look, practicing in a leaky garage sucks, especially when it smells like laundry and motor oil. Get some money together and go legit.
Ah, the all-ages venue. You love it when youre younger, ecstatically grateful to have a place where you are able to witness your favorites perform live-and-in-person . . . or just to have a place where you dont feel too young. But as you grow older, you start hating the very thought of itkids milling about, the idea of even more people crowding up a show for your band (you were totally listening to them, like, way back when they only played garages and basements and had a self-recorded, three-song demo) and, the absolute worst, no alcohol. Well, theres a happy medium. Sort of. Theres still no booze involved, but at least its a place you can still snoot about to your friends. You know how it goes: You always feel cooler knowing about a place not many others do. Santa Anas the Clinic is a venue where mostly local punk bands play. Its No. 1 agenda is supporting the local scene and showcasing bands in an environment where everyone is able to watch. Best of all, the Clinic isnt one of those cursed pay-to-play venues (LA, were looking in your direction) where bands are required to presell a certain quota of tickets in order to perform. The Clinics official website makes a good point about the no-alcohol-thing, anyway: Being an all ages venue, there is a strict no alcohol policy. Drunk kids/adults cause drama; we dont like drama.
When youre drunk to the point that you can barely stand, dont you just love to sidle up to a long table and chuck a steel disk down a stretch of sandy wood? No? Oh. Well, you should, and Iguana Kelleys in Long Beach is the place to go for some old-fashioned shuffleboard. The bar is home to a 22-foot table that gleams like a miniature bowling alley, especially on $2 Tecate beer night. The pucks are free, as long as you have some sort of collateral to leave with the bartender, preferably something along the lines of a drivers license, but considering the seriousness with which some of the patrons play, they might be more apt to ask for a credit card, wedding ring, or first-born child. A quick anecdote: There is a group of players that comes in, usually on Tuesday night, that insists on wiping down the table and starting from scratch with a fresh coat of specialized silicone beads. They then test to make sure an even coat has been applied. These players flay all those in their path. An illuminated scoreboard on the wall will help your drunk ass keep score, and there are occasional shuffleboard tourneys. This aint your granddaddys sun-deck, Carnival Cruise game, sonny. Grab a beer (preferably a $2 model) and bring the heat.
Getting trashed while bowling is every Americans birthright. Theres nothing like the thrill that comes from catching a nice buzz before trying to gracefully power-walk down the lane, throw a strike, and not crack your skull after you drunkenly step over the line and hit the slick waxed wood. Open 24 hourssince you never know when the 4 a.m. bowling urge will strikeLinbrook Bowl, the Anaheim Googie institution, features the Kopa Room, which gets the prize this year mainly because its a dark hole frequented by people who just want to get drunk and bowl. Sure, some may prefer the glitz of a place like Sutra Lounge, but Linbrook offers far more earthy and meaningful pleasures. And unlike at some of OCs fancier bars, you barely even need to be employed to afford the drinks. And they have nightly karaoke. And darts. With the adjoining lanes all-night hours, you can hit the Kopa, get drunk, bowl all night, get a hangover, and nurse said hangover with some hair of the dog back at the Kopa when it begins serving alcohol again at noon the next day. In theory, theres no reason to ever leave Linbrook Bowl.
Finally. A bartender you don’t have to flag down when your glass is empty. In fact, you probably won’t even see the bottom of your glass by the time you’ve got another cocktail waiting. Thank you, Rick; with you, the thirsty find solace. Charming and attentive, Rick has been working the bar scene since long before he was of legal drinking age (relax, he started out as an O’Malley’s busboy), and serving parched customers has become second nature, not to mention a finely honed skill. Perhaps it’s his sharp, sarcastic wit or that curiously styled mustache, but Rick shakes that mixer like nobody else.