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WANNA DANCE?

It's Lava at First Sight for the College Crowd

July 14, 1994|ROSE APODACA JONES | Rose Apodaca Jones is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to the Times Orange County. and

To prove its worth, a nightclub doesn't have to happen in a fabulous place, be staffed with slick employees or charge exorbitant prices for admission, drinks or billiards. Case in point is the Lava Room at Costa Mesa's Newport Station every Monday night, a molten good time based on a very basic formula.

The location is nothing to rave about, but it has all the necessary elements: two bars, a good-sized parquet dance floor, a couple of coin-operated pool tables, colored lights, a mirrored ball.

The Newport Station, which has long been rented out to club promoters, also offers video games and a blackjack table that charges $5 for "$1,200" worth of chips; play for the thrill, not for any financial returns. There's nothing particularly intriguing about the place; then again, there's nothing exactly tacky about it either.

Promoter D.I. Productions (headed by David Seals, who gave life to Roxbury South on Wednesdays last summer) didn't go all out decorating the club, as many promoters do to personalize their once-a-week gigs.

Seals does install a lava lamp effect of swirling colored lights that shimmer on the outside wall and inside on a nine-foot screen near the entrance.

And there are the skateboard and surf videos rolling throughout the night on several monitors and on a large silver screen overlooking the dance floor.

Even the name is not new, just a derivation of the trendy Lava Lounge in Hollywood.

Other ingredients that are neither innovative nor progressive include go-go dancers and the tunes. But deejay Mark Moreno's selection of punk, alternative, funk and disco are at least choice dance favorites. Tracks from the Beastie Boys to Parliament/Funkadelic get the 300 to 450 patrons who attend here weekly groovin'.

Also key is the cost. The cover is only $5, and patrons can bring a friend in for free before 10:30 p.m.

Despite this, the place doesn't get crowded until well after the 11th hour. It takes folks until then to loosen up and hit the floor en masse, too.

Bar specials are $1 drafts, $2 domestic beers (a bottle of Bud is the popular accouterment for the night) and well drinks.

Seal sweetens the inexpensive night further by featuring live bands, both local acts of the grunge, punk and funk variety and better-known artists such as the Gap Band (scheduled for sometime in August, though an exact date hasn't been set).

It's the right combination of all these parts that makes the month-old Lava Room such a hit.

Only a couple of other local haunts attract this many hip patrons.

Dress is casual, but very cool. These are the college-age kids who frequent alternative-wear boutiques, not the mall, so it's no real surprise that they'd latch onto this seemingly unremarkable spot.

* The Lava Room

* At Newport Station, 1445 Placentia, Costa Mesa.

* (714) 740-4033.

* Mondays only, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

* Cover: $5 (two-for-one admissions before 10:30 p.m.).

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