Metropolis enters the summer nightclub sweepstakes with weekend soirees as only this shining star in the county galaxy can throw. If the feel of a bright-lights, big-city club is your thing, check out the latest installations at the Irvine hot spot: Boogie Nights on Fridays and Summer Love on Saturdays.
Both evenings add a new ingredient to Metropolis, which seemed to have everything already--dancing, billiards, a restaurant, a sushi bar--but apparently was without (gasp!) a VIP room. Now, for these two nights anyway, that oversight has been addressed. The restaurant, however, lost half its space to this chamber for the chosen ones.
The result is a mixed bag.
Dubbed the Venus Club, the private room is a fabulous little cocktail bar within the parent club. Passes tout "showgirls and cocktails for players." According to current lingo, that would parlay into nostalgic kitsch warped just enough for the young and hip modern consumer. "Players" takes its cue from the swingers who look to everyone from Dean Martin to Shaft for their cool panache. "Showgirls" is up for interpretation, but camp should define the presentation.
These "upscale" exotic dancers who tease without going topless aren't showgirls, but girls on show. They trot unimaginatively like those in any topless joint, albeit clothed in nice lingerie. These females share the stage with male counterparts, for everyone's enjoyment; their dances are all within the boundaries of the law.
The entertainment is supposed to take a new turn this weekend with peep-show skits, such as a woman slaving over an ironing board clad in barely nothing, while the male dancer watches. It could prove more titillating seeing the roles reversed, but at least the skits are a move in the right direction.
Credit the Venus Club to host Jonathon Marshal, better known as Scorchman. His resume stretches back a decade and includes stints at El Paso Cantina, Pinnafini's, NYC, Visions, Bacchus and, most recently, the Empire Ballroom--from which Metropolis owners, John and Gregg Hanour, lured him away. Scorchman clocks in as a deejay at the Hanour brothers' other dig, the Shark Club, every Thursday.
Because Scorchman's mailing list primarily covers Newport Beach, the patrons invited to the Venus Club are mainly Newport types. He hopes to cultivate a following from the fashion industry, and already folks such as Mossimo Giannulli, Jason Bleik and members of the Quiksilver design team have been seen near the dancer's stage, imported beer in hand. To keep them and other special clientele coming, a limousine service is provided courtesy of Metropolis.
As for the rest of us, entrance into the Venus Club is still pretty relaxed as Scorchman builds up a regular list of VIPs. Ask the entrance guard for Scorchman and he'll decide whether you qualify for a pass. What it takes is strictly up to Scorch. If not, you can watch the action within from the other side of a bar that serves as a divider between the VIP room and the dance floor. The ultimate goal is to make such passes so coveted that those allowed in will know they are special, says the host.
Now for what's up with the rest of the club:
Boogie Nights feature an absolutely cool band by that name and the vinyl mastery of Sean Perry. The '70s disco theme has been so played out everywhere, but with Boogie Nights the band, Metropolis gives this genre a fresh energy. The four-piece kit of Greg Brady look-alikes cranks out tight covers of disco hits, including a finale medley that had everyone kung-fu fighting.
In between the band's four short sets, Perry spins vintage hip-hop and disco, but keeps the funk and rare groove until the end of the night, when the crowd lightens up. Perry continues to carve out a reputation in Los Angeles on this danceable stuff. Maybe throwing in a couple funk tracks earlier would be a good break from all the disco.
Saturday's Summer Love derives its happy vibes not from any flower power, but from the '90s hippie--the house-music fan. DJ Chris Lee is at the helm, getting assistance some evenings from Tony Largo. This night attracts more patrons than Fridays, so come ready to squeeze your way through the festivities.
The Hanours make partying on a budget a breeze. Pop in early and skip the $7 cover that goes into effect at 10 p.m. Fridays and 9 p.m. Saturdays. Deals last until 10 p.m. both days, with half-price specials on all well drinks, beer and wine and appetizers.
After 10, the prices climb back to regular: domestic beer, $3.50; import, $4; hefty 21-ounce bottles of Sapporo, Asahi, Kiren, Becks and Steinlager are $5; wells, $4 to $5; a glass of wine, $4; soda and bottled water, $2.
Fete note: On July 20, "90210" fans can join actor Brian Austin Greene in celebrating his 21st birthday at Metropolis. The 18-and-over soiree will kick off Greene's regular gig there as host every Wednesday thereafter. Known as Il's House, the night will feature an '80s flashback and hip-hop menu by Los Angeles-based deejay Tony Stewart.
* Boogie Nights, Fridays and Summer Love, Saturdays at Metropolis
* 4255 Campus Drive, Irvine.
* (714) 725-0300.
* Opens Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m. Closes both nights at 3 a.m.
* Cover: $7 after 10 p.m. Fridays and after 9 p.m. Saturdays.