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CLUBS in and around Orange County | WANNA DANCE?

Getting Down

To Tropics' basement, that is, for underground hip-hop at Stardust.

January 22, 1998|ZAN DUBIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Surf City revelers, always cranked to sample something new, have been gravitating to Tropics, a mainstream restaurant-club with a surprise inside: Stardust, a Friday night promotion that includes underground hip-hop.

Deejay Mark Moreno, a pro surfer who spins the same format for the monthly, roving Fat Pad, does the duties here, evidently bringing along some of those followers, diversifying the usual blond and blue-eyed Huntington club populace.

Moreno rotates Snoop Doggy Dog and crew in this spacious, trilevel facility's downstairs banquet room, lovingly nicknamed "the dungeon." "I need a freak," said a recent party prowler, cruising past a row of drab stools in search of the shapeliest pair of go-go boots to groove with.

Hardly much to look at, the room has a low, flat ceiling that makes for great, booming acoustics, and shiny mirrors surround the modest dance floor, which doesn't begin to split a seam until 11:30 p.m., this town's standard witching hour.

The floor is beneath a trippy, angular glass-paneled canopy, above which looms the club's main drag. Stairs and a winding ramp lead to this central area, where the pickup action and beer imbibing on a recent night coalesced around a bar until deejay Danny Love managed to fill a larger dance floor with funk, classic soul and disco.

On this level, Tropics lives up to its name. A thatched roof juts out over a long, curved bar; skinny bamboo shoots line the walls, and fishnets cradling plastic crustaceans drape behind booths toward the rear, where a third deejay, the ubiquitous Beej, spins house from his perch next to a salad bar turned ice-filled beer trough ($3 and $4 for Heineken, Corona, Bud and Bud Lite).

Although the Stardust name clearly evokes Vegas, nothing has been done to bring that glittery vision to the wooded interior of this steak and seafood house, which was known as Jeremiah's before becoming Jeffrey's about two years ago, when Stardust promoter Jonah Miller (best known for the Wreck Room at Old World Restaurant in Huntington) briefly ran a weekly 18-and-over club called Grand Royale.

Miller is trying to go loungy in the club's third-floor aerie, where live jazz is played and people splay on couches. Stardust's people, a mid-20s group, may also chill on the patio and eat until 10 p.m.. Appetizers are the usual quesadillas, potato skins and such for $4.75 to $5.75. There's a swordfish dinner for $12.50; pasta and chicken dishes and sandwiches, such as a turkey club, run $6.25.

*

BALLROOM '98: Deejay Patricia Straight has set this year's dates for her Saturday night Swing and Ballroom Dance at Knott's Berry Farm: Feb. 21, April 4 and 18, May 9 and 30, June 13, Sept. 12 and 26 and Nov. 14. The 7-11 p.m. dances are held at the Nu Wave Theatre (formerly Cloud 9) at Knott's, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. Tickets are $12 and include park admission after 6 p.m. and parking. (714) 968-5816.

BE THERE

Stardust, at Tropics, 8901 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach; (714) 960-8122. 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday. Cover: $5 before 10 p.m., then $10.

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