Blind Date

Need an update on Vegas? Too bad. I wouldn't know; I'm still waiting on my invitation.

But I can tell you that it's doing quite well, or at least it appeared to be last Saturday night when I spotted a line of cars docked in the valet line as I was cruising down Newport Boulevard.

No, I wasn't headed to the Bamboo Terrace—I'm saving that trip for May 7, when the Program returns. Instead, I was late for a blind date with Rain—you know, Costa Mesa's oft-forgotten, rarely mentioned other nightclub.

Acting on a tip I'd received months earlier about Rey Momo, Rain's biweekly Saturday night Argentinean love fest, I arrived at 11:15 p.m. to a packed parking lot and a line of high-heeled, halter-topped beauties waiting outside the door. Thank God: so far, my date was smokin'.

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Once inside, I moseyed toward the modestly packed, smoky dance floor—smoky from a smoke machine, not actual smoke smoke—where DJ/Rey Momo promoter Freddy was spinning a collection of South American rhythms from his perch inside the elevated DJ booth.

Thanks to Freddy's salsa-fied grooves, there was hip shaking a-plenty, but I'm not much for hip shaking, so it was off to scope out the bar's monstrous smoking patio. And lo: there, standing in the soft, misty rain (ha!), speaking Spanish and sipping on Ferenet-and-Cokes (they taste like Ambesol!) and bottles of Quilmes (Argentina's favorite beer!) were 40 of the most incredibly attractive, animated, friendly folks you're likely to ever encounter in these parts.

I eavesdropped unsuccessfully for 10 minutes—evidently, I'm still not much for foreign languages, but it beat hearing a pack of dippy bros discuss the relative virtue in mixing hard drinks and easy women—and then I returned inside, but only after passing a small kitchen hawking empanadas, lomitos and choripanes. (The food, it turns out, is special to Rey Momo; Freddy's family owns Lake Forest's Empanada Man restaurant.)

With Rain's old-school Galaga video-game machine beckoning me, I made a pit stop at the bar for a whiskey-Coke just in time to notice a table of dressed-down girls sitting in silence, inattentive, it seemed, to the otherwise lively goings-on. Then, seconds later, a man with a guitar strapped to his back approached one of the girls and stole a quick kiss before turning around and heading toward the dance floor. Of course! The bored girls were with the band—they always are—and the band, as I was about to find out, was Juanse, featuring Juan Sebastian (Juanse) Gutirrez from Argentina's Los Ratones Paranoicos.

Oh, and Los Ratones Paranoicos? They're only the Argentinean Rolling Stones. Juanse himself? Only the Argentinean Mick Jagger. No, for reals.

By the time the band launched into a song with a bass line so deliciously phat—yes, phat—that I swore I was hearing a rock en espaol cover of the Stones' "Miss You," the dance floor was more than just modestly packed: people had taken their shirts off and had begun swinging them above their heads. A drunk girl standing to my right moaned to her boyfriend that she wanted to hear music she could dance to. Gazing at the crowd of fans that were singing along with the band, I pitied her. Her night, it seemed, had just taken a turn for the worst.

But as for me, well, I took a moment to size up my blind date with Rain and Rey Momo: Gorgeous people? With equally gorgeous smiles and accents? In a bar with an elevated DJ booth, Galaga anda late-night kitchen? And the effing Argentinean Mick effing Jagger?

Rain, I can only say this: I'll call you again soon.

No, really. I promise.

Rey Momo goes off at Rain, 1700 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-3884;; Every other Sat., 9 p.m. $10. 21+.

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