[Editor's Note: We all know local music and dive bars go hand-in-hand. So in the interest of merging the two together on Heard Mentality, we bring you our weekly nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read as our bold web editor, Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby, stumbles into the dive bar scene every week to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]
When a bar has a reputation from other bartenders at seedy bars in the area as "The place that shall not be named," you know we're going. Such is the introduction I got for Hy Roy Lounge in Huntington Beach, from a nearby dive that's delightfully scummy, but shall remain nameless itself. Even our good friend Ace the Cab Driver, the unofficial Sage of Huntington Beach who gives guided tours of the wild city from his black Town Car like a bearded Jungle Cruise captain, has stories about Hy Roy. Like the time in the late 1980s when a drunk driver rammed his truck clear through the walls of the bar as though he were the Kool-Aid Man. Ohhh, yeah!
Hy Roy's location is quiet and unassuming, yet visible from the street. The tall, gray, brick building is devoid of windows, with the word cocktails painted on the side in large, fading letters; it can be easy to drive right by and never notice. And the locals who live within stumbling distance like it that way. It's your standard neighborhood bar with no frills and more wood than a Kate Upton video-viewing party.
But peel back some layers, go beneath all the free beer-company mirrors and metal signs, and you'll find the remnants of attempts to spruce up the joint. Giant black-and-white tiles checker the ceiling; half of the wall is covered with crimson-and-gold wallpaper, while the other half has wood paneling. The different styles form a trifecta of unassuming-beer-bar kitsch.
The crowd ranges from the young and hip, such as the gal wearing animal-print leggings and a black leather jacket, to the middle-aged man with a white beard and backward cap. For entertainment, three pool tables, three dart machines and Big Buck Hunter (unfortunately broken on our visit) are provided, but the best entertainment is listening to the regulars shoot the shit and the hilarious off-the-cuff remarks of the Melissa McCarthy-like bartender, Heidi. The comparison first struck me when she began talking about being a bridesmaid (perfect, right?). "Bridesmaid, blah, blah, fuck," she said in jest, pouring a cocktail.
"You don't want to be a bridesmaid?" asked a customer in a scarf next to me. "Fuck NO," the bartender responded. "I keep getting text messages and emails . . . how excited everyone is, and ooh, the bachelorette party." The scarf-wearing patron asked about her bridesmaid outfit. "She's making us wear leopard heels . . . because she's a cunt," she joked with great timing as the bar broke out laughing. "No, I love her to death," Heidi said seriously. "I would die for her. We have been through so much together."
Real talk, ladies. If any brides out there take offense to that, guess what? Every bridesmaid talks like this about your wedding, no exceptions. Haven't you seen the movie? Not only does Heidi keep it real, but she also cares about her customers, both regulars and visitors. When a small group stumbled out after playing pool for a while, she yelled to them, "Bye, guys--get home safe, 'kay? Everybody walking home? Score!" Even the regulars were amateur comedians. The topic of Valentine's Day came up, and a jokester to the right of me with a baseball cap piped in with, "You know that guys in relationships celebrate Valentine's Day, but do you know what single guys celebrate? . . . Palm Sunday."
The gal down the way with the scarf said, "That's funny, but that's gross, Greg." At about 10 p.m., an Asian woman in a furry leopard coat came in and handed sweet Heidi a résumé. The bartender was helpful, saying she wasn't sure if Hy Roy was hiring, but she rattled off two or three nearby bars she thought were. Another patron at the bar mentioned something about the Asian woman being down on her luck, and the aforementioned bearded fellow chimed in with, "I knew the Dragon Lady had a sad mouth." Stay classy, Hy Roy regulars!
HEARD ON THE JUKEBOX: "Contemporary country" standards such as "Friends In Low Places" by Garth Brooks and "People Are Crazy" by Billy Currington.
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FAVORITE PIECE OF FLAIR: The 99 Cents Store attempt at Valentine's Day décor with multiple sets of furry handcuffs behind the bar.
Hy Roy Lounge, 5050 Heil Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 846-9750.