Photo by Matt OttoIn case you weren't paying attention, yet another'80s club opened in Orange County last Friday. Unfortunately, it opened in Lake Forest, which is kinda like fanny packs finally making it to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1998, which means that after years—years—of being on the down low, the secret is out: the '80s are back. Way back. Jungle-green-is-the-new-orange back.
But don't tell the kids. Oh, no, don't tell the kids. Because then there'd be no one to go to Shades, and then the owners of Pearl Nightclub would go back to thinking the early '90s had never ended and there'd be lots of house music and boob jobs and balding menfolk and that would just be bad. Creepy-men-stumbling-over-from-Captain-Cream's bad.
No, let the kids think the '80s retro craze is still cool, that repeatedly bleaching and flat-ironing their hair is both wise and healthy, that wearing six-inch skirts and see-through shirts does not in fact make a gal look skanky at all, and that standing around gawking at one another actually makes them look even cooler—as if 'twere even possible! Yes, let them think all this and more—like, say, that apologizing when you bump into someone makes you a fucking loser—because if they don't, Lake Forest might just become even less desirable—as if 'twere even possible!
It would be easy to blame nytehype—the stylish collective of early-twentysomething-ish promoters behind Shades, who maybe have a year or five before they'll learn not to launch a club in a terrible location—or Pearl—again, Lake Forest; why?—but it'd be unfair. Because we actually enjoyed all that was offered at Shades: six DJs, a more-than-decent music selection (bonus points for spicing things up with Tones on Tail and the Rapture), and a nice $2 special on domestic beers. Likewise, we certainly couldn't fault Pearl itself—even with its questionable purple interior and potentially hazardous plywood stripper-pole platforms—because it was, after all, formerly the Drink. Tackiness, you know, can sometimes prove impossible to shake.
Instead, our vitriol had more to do with the people at Shades than the club itself. We knew why we were there—doy, it's called this fabulous job of ours—but it was a mystery as to why anyone else bothered to show up at all, that is, unless they were MySpace buddies or had gone to high school with someone else in attendance, which seemed to be the case. This, we acknowledge, isn't always a bad thing but at a joint the size of Pearl? With not one, but two dance floors? Murder.
And so it was that an empty dance floor—which is pitiful—became even more pitiful as the crowd picked up, gathered round in a dance ring, and then did nothing, save for one girl who looked like she was going to jump in the middle, bouncing to the music and counting beats like a cheerleader, and then still did nothing. Similarly, an already parceled-off crowd pushed even farther into their individual corners—instead of pushing toward one another and the bar, as routine social-binge-drinking behavior dictates—to the point it started to feel like we were in high school, too, and that's just about the worst thing ever.
In the end, it seemed our bad night was to blame on the kids and the kids alone. Maybe they were feeling shy, or maybe they were tired from the drive to Lake Forest. It's anyone's guess. But, guys? If you're gonna dress from the '80s, act like it, too. Drink. Dance. Be happy.
Shades at Pearl Nightclub, 23600 Rockfield Blvd., Lake Forest; www.nytehype.net. Fri., 10 p.m. $10. 18+.