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WANNA DANCE?

Boom Hasn't Left the Room in Laguna Beach Since 1927

September 02, 1993|ROSE APODACA | Rose Apodaca is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

For all its coffeehouses, bars and other late-night hangs, Laguna Beach hosts relatively few places to dance, especially if your idea of working up a sweat isn't bouncing to reggae rhythms but getting down to a thumping pop beat.

But as longtime regulars (both local residents and out-of-towners) of the strip know, what goes boom in the night is one of the areas oldest landmarks, the Boom Boom Room and its adjoining bar, Hunky's.

The Boom--as the corner site is now popularly known--opened its doors in 1927 as a pub called South Seas with only a jukebox to entertain the servicemen who frequented it.

It was the advent of disco that gave the place its current name. A bass-booming sound system was installed, and disgruntled old-timers took to the more descriptive labeling.

Much of Hunky's English pub decor and steakhouse menu has been ditched over the last decade for trendier fare: rows of televisions flashing videos and California-style cuisine.

Recently, the bar was moved to the center of the room, so activity surrounds patrons, for a friendlier atmosphere.

A pool table sits nearby, and there's another in the connecting game room between Hunky's and the Boom. Patrons can find a couple of pinball machines and a blackjack table (for fun, not profit) there.

It's in the Boom, however, where the action sways, shakes and shimmies on a small dance floor crowned with sirens, strobes and colored spotlights.

Granted, it doesn't stay as packed as other areas of the club throughout the night; as at most nightclubs, a lot of searching for that special someone goes on, and it's difficult to do that in a dark, loud room.

But for those who just want to dance, (and that includes the straight minority who visit), the the place is perfect.

Of course, it's the jams that set the mood, and the house deejays know how to work a turntable. They do a better job cutting new and rare grooves than many self-dubbed underground deejays who claim to know what's hip.

That's not to say the Boom is leading the pack in innovations. Both the decor and the patrons' attire are unassuming and casual, even on weekends, when techno-pop and Eurodisco vibes blast from the speakers.

But this is one of those places that's always been around, where male guppies who haven't seen each other in days or years always bump into another and being a local doesn't necessarily mean you live within county boundaries.

Crowd levels fluctuate as they do among the rest of Laguna's coastal businesses--according to the season--but the club gets traffic nightly, no matter the month.

Country dancing on Monday nights has been drawing them in droves, as has Thursday's Make-A-Date night.

On that evening, patrons too shy to approach each other can leave messages in a mailbox; the host announces when the special delivery arrives, but instead of using names, the number worn by each person is called out.

Sunday's decade-old Beer Bust tradition lives on with inexpensive brew and, during the summer, a contest judging who has the best tan (forget skin cancer fears here), hosted by drag queen Phyllis Dyllis. The music and festivities begin at 4 p.m.

Wednesday's Trash Disco Night is among the county's better '70s retro gigs--not because anyone dresses in bells, but because the music is not the same old playlist that's being regurgitated everywhere. After all, deejay Barry Johnson, a 20-year veteran of the turntables, went through the decade the first time around and isn't afraid to show his stuff. So wear comfortable shoes.

BOOM BOOM ROOM

*1401 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

* (714) 494-7588.

* Open daily, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

* Cover: $5 Fridays and Saturdays only.

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