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WANNA DANCE?

Get a Line on the Waterfront

July 08, 1993|ROSE APODACA | Rose Apodaca is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

No matter how packed a nightclub can get, how stifling from the body heat, how difficult it becomes to maneuver from the entrance to the bar to the dance floor, there are those places that keep luring crowds back week after week. Such a spot is the Waterfront Hilton in Huntington Beach every Friday night.

Rad beach dudes, disco divas and studly GQ types in their 20s converge at the dimly lit hotel club in droves to funk it up, hang out and collect phone numbers. They come mostly in same-sex groups to prowl, but it resembles more a junior high dance than, say, the notorious swinger style found at a Red Onion.

The guys say there are two ladies to every one of them; the women report the opposite ratio. Actually, the crowd appears about equally mixed, which suggests both sexes seem content with the trappings.

Arrive early or near closing or prepare to wait in a lengthy line that stretches into the lobby. On Fridays, the club peaks from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and on several recent evenings there have been up to four dozen people queued up at 10:30.

The alternative is to barge in by schmoozing. (Hey, everybody tries it. Some chutzpah and a little persistence can save you some time if you can get away with it. And it works just as well for the men as it does for the women.) You'll still have to dole out the $3 cover, however.

But skip the bad attitude. It won't get you in any easier, nor will it impress the babes, male or female. The influx of surfer and skateboarder locals sets the amiable, everything's-cool mood here. Even the bartenders have the bug; the nonstop demands for another drink don't appear to get to them.

On that note, the beverage flow certainly doesn't slow despite the high prices after 10 p.m. Before that magic hour, you can grab a well drink or domestic draft for $2. Then the costs rise: Wine, wells and beers sell for $3 to $5.50. It's one of the few drags that regulars here gripe about.

Another minor nuisance is the small dance floor, but wear your dancing shoes anyway. DJ Paul Revollar spins a diverse mix--old and new funk, hip-hop and R&B, with sets of '70s disco and KROQ favorites--connected by a groove that's too down to sit out.

Also wear light togs. Even just standing still in this hotbox can make you sweat, so leave your jacket in the car.

This is one Friday club that's best kept as a brief stop--it's too crowded and the drinks are too expensive to spend too many hours here. The locals know this: though the club boasts total traffic of 600 partiers, it only lets in half that many at any given time.

Still, the tunes are a hit and the cover is cheap enough so you won't feel like you have to clock in more than an hour or two to get your money's worth.

* WATERFRONT HILTON

* 21100 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach.

* (714) 960-7873.

* Friday nights, open 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

* Cover: $3.

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