Hell in a Shoebox

Photo by Matt Otto“We tried to go to Rouge,” my new brunette friend was explaining, shivering a bit from the rainy cold but nonetheless leisurely smoking her cigarette, “but they'd stopped serving food.”

Actually,” interjected her chiseled, fake-'n'-bake Ken doll friend—Country Club Ken, specifically, although if you slashed his income in half, he'd be a Salty Dog Ken like all the rest—”she didn't have enough food stamps.”


Or not: this, friends, is how a remarkably well-designed place like Newport Beach's brand-new Tentation can transform in mere seconds from an ultra-lounge with actual potential—even if white is slightly pass when it comes to nightclub motifs, and the owners would be wise to use some better, non-virtual-reality-esque visuals—into a stuffy, vapid diorama of hell, if hell were a sleek ultra-lounge plagued by haughty, wealthy asshats and, you know, could fit into a shoebox.

Because seriously, even if it was clear that Ken was paying for this gal's drinks—and probably pays for them each time they hang out together—nobody asked him to butt into her conversation. She was simply answering why she'd ended up at Tentation on a Thursday night—which was, by the way: failing Rouge, they'd gone to Ten, the restaurant located next to Tentation, and then continued the night at the lounge—but for him to insinuate her financial inferiority to his obvious bling? And with lame jokes about food stamps?

But enough of that. Even though playing party to this exchange was a colossal bummer and tainted my perceptions of the kind of people who might go to Tentation, there were some enjoyable things about the club: namely, giant glasses of booze with diameters that reached at least 3.5 inches; a goofy Anna Nicole look-alike whom every man present couldn't help “bumping into”; and the DJs, whose groovy mix of Snoop, Jay-Z and Beyonc kept the dance floor—an army of bottle-blonde fem-bots and metrosexual bro-bots, each packing megatons of heat with their ridiculously large breasts and expensive hair-care products, respectively—steadily boogying. (Oh, and P.S., a shout out to Tentation's bathroom attendants—best ones ever—who had Playboys for the menfolk and Renu contact solution and sympathetic smiles for us women.)

Ultimately, given its substantial floor space, cozy, Buddha-licious smoking patio, looming white walls—ideal for visuals, just some better ones—and refreshingly expansive bar area (48 feet long!), Tentantion, it seems, would flourish with a weekly themed gig or a series of one-off, heavily promoted nights—essentially, something to give it more prowess as an ultra-lounge and the boost it needs to become more than just “that new club next to Ten.” And for this to happen, all Tentation really needs is luck—it remains to be seen if ultra-lounges like Tentation and Sutra will stick in Orange County—and a few months, or however long it takes to gain a following of folks who actually seek out the club on their own, rather than just drop by when the food stamps run out.

Subbed! correspondent DJ Kristina B reports from a giant puddle on Broadway: “O, Long Beach, let me sing your praises: the Great Compromise. Close enough to be practical and far enough to be exotic; poor enough to be interesting yet affluent enough to be safe. Start at the Good Foot: a mannequin by the door is covered in a mosaic of old chewing gum and the bathroom smells like a cross between a sewer and an armpit, but I do the hustle till midnight and say hello to DJ Bobby Soul and Koo's guy Dennis Lluy and Kitsch Bar DJs Adjective and Rob Acosta. Then downtown at midnight: it's pouring. At Taco Beach, the doorman stares at me. Although I'm flattered and now reinforced in my belief that spending hundreds of dollars per year on moisturizer is a worthwhile investment, I'm also annoyed. I've been over 21 for a while. The Rolling Blackouts have just begun. It smells like hipsters and fish tacos. I say hi to Tony of Glock und Spiel, the men of the D-Strutters, and Dan Perkins and Shawn Malone of the New Fidelity and wish Jorge from the Red Onions a happy 26th birthday. The Flash Express finishes with a moving number: 'Pussy stank, but so do marijuana!' Applause, and the lights come on. Then back to a pad down the street to enjoy some moonshine and Sav-On brand whiskey with about 100 other friends and well-wishers. 'Is this the bathroom?' a girl asks, opening the door to the closet. A guy wearing goggles and sporting half a mustache is urinating out the window. Someone is throwing up in the sink. Another young man has wrapped himself up in the curtains and is lying on the floor yelling 'This is F. Scott Fitzgerald's nightmare!' into the wall. It's 4 a.m. 'They say Iran is developing nuclear weapons,' the host says. 'If they detonated those right about now so I wouldn't have to clean up in the morning, that'd be great.'”

Tentation Ultra-Lounge is located at 4647 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 660-1010. Open Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Call for cover and VIP reservations.

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