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CLUBS

Get Out of Town!

For a club that's low on attitude and high on a good time, the Clipper in Long Beach is worth a visit.

March 20, 1997|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Boy, is it nice to get out of Hollywood now and then. Not because there isn't a whole lot shaking--it's still Clubland Central--but because if you've seen one blase crowd, you've seen 'em all.

People here are so spoiled. For many, paying a cover at a popular nightclub is akin to saying, "I'm a loser," because it's interpreted as having no juice or connections. But strange and wonderful things can happen when you exit Tinseltown. At a recent visit to the Clipper in Long Beach, we watched folks eagerly cough up a ten-spot to see some live music, and once inside, appear--quite visibly--to be having a good time.

What makes this worth noting is there's a pervasive, self-conscious attitude infecting many Hollywood club-goers that no matter how great the band on stage is, you're still supposed to appear somewhat bored. Not at the Clipper, though.

This old-school sports bar in central Long Beach is undergoing a transformation into a live music hub, and few involved can wipe the smiles off their faces.

Two young promoters, David James and David Salinger--known collectively as Outsider Entertainment--noted that many clubs in the area had turned away from booking good old punk and underground rock in favor of rockabilly and swing. The consensus was that with Bogart's closed, bands that fit those descriptions had to go outside of the area if they wanted a gig.

After booking stints with the neighboring Tiki Bar and Foothill Club, the promoters met Randy Roberts, the owner of the Clipper, and voila, a scene was born.

The Clipper is proof-positive that sometimes it doesn't matter what a venue looks like or whether its decor is in step with current trends; if it's got heart, you can feel it from the moment you walk in the door. And currently, the Clipper is alive with live music and foosball fans alike.

The 50-year-old nightclub is composed of two long rooms containing video and pinball games, three billiard tables, steel-tip darts, more than a dozen TV screens and the aforementioned foosball--a game folks are willing to line up for here. But on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, when Outsiders invites local and touring acts to perform, the focus is on the Clipper's stage, which was recently expanded and given a new sound system, boosting the volume to the appropriate ear-ringing level for a punk rock club.

Kicking off the Clipper's rebirth in November with a Humpers show, the club has maintained an interesting lineup each week. Such touring acts as Seattle's Zeke (who just signed a three-record deal with Epitaph), Vancouver's Hanson Brothers and recent expats Billyclub (featuring members of the U.K. Subs and the Exploited) have performed at the Clipper, along with such O.C. locals as U.S. Bombs and Throw Rag (soon to be the next big thing out of Costa Mesa).

Upcoming shows at the Clipper include tonight's performance by Japan's Guitar Wolf, the Henchmen (who are from Detroit) and the Fells (from Arizona). MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer is scheduled to perform Friday with Seattle's Manray and Long Beach locals Shemp, and on Saturday, the Clipper is presenting an all-day "Drunkfest," which is actually a record release party for Flipside's second "RAFR" compilation (an acronym for Rock and [Expletive] Roll), with performances by more than a dozen bands.

Among them are the ADZ, Snap-her, the L.A. Thymes and Twister. Things are working out so well right now that the Clipper is planning to give something back to its legion of new fans. Beginning the last week of March, Thursday shows will always be free, i.e., coverless. Don't be surprised to see a few jaded faces in this largely lively crowd.

BE THERE

The Clipper, 3325 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 597-0014. 21 and over, cover varies.

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