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WANNA DANCE?

Club BBG Offers Alternatives for the Non-Boogie Set

July 29, 1993|ROSE APODACA | Rose Apodaca is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

It's not enough to offer just a deejay spinning dance hits. To appease those who opt not to boogie, an ever-increasing number of nightclubs in Orange County also provide a room to view live bands and play pool. Club BBG along Pacific Coast Highway was among the first to introduce this formula a year ago and continues to be among Newport Beach's hot spots for the twentysomething gang.

You know you're approaching the club when you hit the long line of cars--stretching a half block down PCH on weekend evenings--crawling up to the $2 valet station. The sign says Lucy's Bayside Bar and Grill, but that's the restaurant that stops serving food around 9 p.m. When the sun sets, the joint operates as Club BBG.

To the left of the entrance is the main room, with three pool tables, a long bar and a dance floor and stage that features a different band each night. The live music is usually reggae or danceable rock and the bands tend to be local. Besides old movie posters and autographed electric guitars decorating this room, there's a marlin flamed hot-rod style over the bar.

Back toward the lobby and to the right takes you to the restrooms, the dance room and another bar and billiards room. Before hitting these rooms, do yourself a favor and stop at the taco bar near the entrance. A buck buys you a soft shell filled with your choice of pork, chicken or beef; they're just like the tasty tacos bought on the street in Ensenada.

The sound system in the small, dark dance space does the job, and the bass is loud enough for everybody to feel the beat. Delivered by DJ Kevin K, the music spans from retro to techno, from Frankie (Double Dutch Bus) Smith to the Pharcyde.

Although this room takes the longest to get going (somewhere near the 11th hour), when it does, it goes off. Dancers have to forget trying to stay on the tiny wood floor and do the best they can on the surrounding carpeted area.

Squeeze your way through the disco to get to the back bar and billiards room. There, another three tables stay busy all night, even before the rest of the club gets groovin'. All of the pool tables are free before 10 p.m., then $1 per game.

If you hate waiting for the party to start, it's best to show up between 10 and 10:30, when it's still not too crazy to slide in easily and there's enough of a crowd to mingle with. Club BBG on weekend nights draws about 450 to 650 patrons; even at its peak it's comfortable enough to maneuver through the club, find a seat or get a drink without the wait.

The bar serves cocktails for $3 to $4.25; wine for $2.75 to $3.50; and domestic and import brews for $2.50 to $3.50. Pennywise beer drinkers can pick up a 21-ounce bottle of Steinlager for $6.

Those on a budget or looking to start the night early can enjoy happy hour from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. In addition to offering $2 you-call-it drinks, Mexican food to snack on and free games of pool, it lets folks save on the $5 cover when they stay on until the club officially opens an hour later.

Club BBG's weekend crowd is casual, and neither too hip nor too out. Summertime has gals strutting in their cut-offs and boots, and the fashionable Newport "gangsta" boys with their neon-colored beepers copping attitudes. And then there's the RUB (Rich Urban Bikers) set, who do the rest of us the favor of parking their shiny tanks near the door so we'll have something to look at while waiting for valets to retrieve our cars.

Regulars can cash in on VIP cards being made available in August. For $20 per month, the privileged can skip the cover and lines every night, including holidays, and have complete access to a hidden VIP room one night a year. Catch: a minimum of six months must be purchased.

* CLUB BBG

* 353 E. Coast Highway, Newport Beach.

* (714) 673-7800.

* Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

* Cover: $5.

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