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CLUB SCENE : No 'Moon River' Here

July 22, 1994|SYLVIA L. OLIANDE

Two decades ago, families in the San Fernando Valley stopped in at Mancini's restaurant at Roscoe Boulevard and De Soto Avenue for an old-fashioned Italian meal. Today, the restaurant's clientele at Mancini's Club M is decidedly different, with an emphasis on youth and live entertainment of the hard-rocking variety.

THE SCENE: Mancini's still has a full menu and a full bar, but little is visible of the club's middle-class, Italian origins after five years in its current format. The large club is decorated only with pictures of bands gone by and an occasional lighted beer logo. Club M's appeal is its large stage, which can hold up to 16 musicians, where live bands play nightly. The club has two dart machines, a few video games, a television and a pinball machine. Dozens of seats and tables frame a large dance floor that serves as a mosh pit when there is an under-20 crowd.

THE CROWD: Generally the club serves 18 and older, but on a recent Thursday it was opened to all ages. Casual dress translates to jeans, shorts and T-shirts. Among the under-20s, neo-grunge and ska were the choices.

THE MUSIC: Mancini's was awash in ska that night. The Skeletones got the audience dancing as headliners, and Ave. 120 helped heat up the crowd--and pack it, since most of them were friends of the band. First up were the Poor Unfortunates, who were indeed unfortunate, being the lone punk band of the night.

THE GOOD: It is a great place to hear up-and-coming local bands. The sound system is excellent, and the band quality impressive. "It's cool that they have young kids come in, there are not too many clubs like that," said Matt Coffman, 24, of Calabasas. Said Josh Spincic, 17, of North Hollywood: "It's bigger than a lot of other clubs, and it has better bands."

THE BAD: Socializing isn't easy. The crowd is there to hear the band, not conversation. "I don't like it," said Amanda Harrison, 16, of Chatsworth. "It's overpriced, and these people (the owners) think they have a good thing going, and they don't."

FUTURE DAZE: The club plans to expand its game room and set up a room to highlight alternative bands with acoustic sets--sort of a Club M Unplugged.

Mancini's Club M, 20923 Roscoe Blvd., Canoga Park . 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Cover charge is $3 to $8. (818) 341-8503.

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