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WANNA DANCE?

Suburbanites Go West, Find Themselves In Cahoots

June 24, 1993|ROSE APODACA | Rose Apodaca is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

One element that many of the country clubs in Orange County lack is authenticity. Most are so heavily garnished with anything Western that they teeter on kitsch. But with last week's opening of In Cahoots in Fullerton, suburban cowpokes can get a taste of a scene that's hard to find here.

Not that In Cahoots completely shuns faux cacti, decorated cow skulls or the black and white promo shots of country artists that deluge other clubs. But simplicity is the rule here. The brick walls lend a rustic feel, while the red neon tube trim glowing near the ceiling has just enough contemporary cool. And a trio of giant, boldly colored paintings highlighting cowboy accouterments give this down-home hang just the right class.

It's no fluke that the club is--as it promises--"a two-step above the rest." The latest addition to a national chain based in Houston, In Cahoots also has sibling clubs in Glendale, San Diego and Sacramento. The Houston flagship is the legendary Safari USA.

In addition to a very friendly staff (including a welcoming committee at the door), the place boasts a great sound system and an incredible dance floor.

The 2,000-square-foot floor is "floating." Meaning, at a cost of $25,000, it's lined with foam, various woods and covered with maple and is like those built for professional basketball courts and gymnasiums. It's a boost to dancers because it reduces stress on the joints.

And dancing is what most patrons come to do. The floor stays jumping throughout the night with folks familiar with the new and old dances. They might live in suburbia, but it's evident that the majority present are serious country fans.

At one end of the floor, serving as a backdrop to the deejay platform, hangs a 35-foot-long, 12-foot-high flag of Texas. Live bands, including national acts, will also perform here occasionally, says the management.

(On most nights featuring band performances, expect the cover charge to rise only slightly from its $2 to $4 norm, though for top acts it might go as high as $15.)

What gives this place some of its genuine feel is the layout. The club is just a big hall with a warehouse-high ceiling. No way to get segmented, everyone of the 600 or so folks who can fit in the club are part of the same party. A short bar wraps around the dance floor, where wallflowers or tired two-steppers can kick back and watch the never-ending parade moving counter-clockwise.

Open seven nights a week, the club hosts a different theme every evening, starting with free dance lessons nightly from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Sunday's theme is Family Round-Up, with two-hour lessons for the youngsters starting at noon, followed by a session from 2 to 4 for teens. Mondays cater to folks who like to West Coast swing and take a crack at country karaoke singing.

The food and drink specials start Tuesday with free pizza and 75-cent drafts from 7 to 9 p.m. All drinks are $1.25 on Wednesdays and long necks sell for $1.75 from 7 to 9 on Thursdays. Also on Thursdays, dynamo dancers can compete for a $200 cash prize.

Frugal steak lovers can eat dinner on Fridays for $2.75 from 5 to 8 p.m. and stay on for a night hosted by country station KIK-FM. On Saturdays, for only $5.75, have a steak and a baby lobster from 5 to 8 p.m. Those hours also mark happy hour every night, with all well drinks, wine, Margaritas and selected bottled beers going for $1.75. (After 8, the drinks go up by $1 or more.) Snack on everything from chips and salsa ($1.75) to burgers ($4.50) and barbecued chicken pizza ($4.95) until closing.

* IN CAHOOTS

* 1401 S. Lemon St., Fullerton.

* (714) 441-1666.

* Open Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, open to all ages from noon to 4:30 p.m., ages 21 and over until 2 a.m.

* Cover: Varies, $2 to $4.

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