Ricocheting like a rubber ball, a break dancer bounces off Detroit Bar's concrete floor with a powerful back-flip, bringing howls of approval from the small crowd of twentysomethings dancing to old-school hip-hop.
A couple of nights later, a larger, slightly older party crowd moves to the thumping house beats of veteran Orange County disc jockey Danny Love. On Mondays, longhaired rockers push close to the stage, soaking up the last notes of an experimental pop song.
Concert video and cartoons usually flicker on the televisions above the sleek bar of this Costa Mesa club. If Fox News is occasionally on screen, it's the only mainstream culture allowed in.
Detroit Bar prides itself on giving a home to underground sounds with a hip cachet.
At least that's the focus Detroit Bar co-owner Dan Bradley wanted in 2001, when he opened this club equipped with Eames-style modernist furniture and a collection of orange and brown cushions covering the walls.
Inspired by both the rough and polished sounds from Detroit, such as Motown, Iggy Pop and Detroit Techno, Bradley also hoped this club could send a message to hipsters in the 714 and 949 area codes. If they're possessed with the urge for niche music, they can ditch the drive to Hollywood.
"We love the stigma of being in a cultural void," the 36-year-old club owner joked, mocking perceptions of Orange County as a cultural backwater.
"We don't have to look to Los Angeles for guidance. There's enough creative energy here," said Bradley, a lifelong Orange County resident and co-owner of the hip Memphis Cafe in Costa Mesa and sister spot Memphis Restaurant in Santa Ana.
Local musicians provide most of the entertainment with evenings featuring local disc jockeys and Monday night residencies for rock bands. The residencies offer musicians with an experimental twist, such as Richard Swift, a precious chance to try out new songs in front of a live audience.
"From my experience, that's rare in Orange County," Swift said. "Unless you're a blatant rock 'n' roll band or a rap metal band, it's not easy to find a place where people pay attention."
Hip alternative bands such as punk blues outfit John Spencer Blues Explosion, folk rocker Elliot Smith and house DJ Miguel Migs made stops at Detroit Bar.
The experimental jazz/lounge/rock critics' darlings Stereolab played the club's first concert, and alternative rock legends the Breeders played an unannounced show this year before leaving for their Latin American tour.
New music fans such as Clay Young, 34, also frequent Detroit Bar because the club serves an unfulfilled need in the area's night life.
"Most places in Orange County are either clubs for garage bands or arenas for the over-the-top successful bands," said Young, who has followed Orange County's nightclub history for a decade as a community member DJ for KUCI-FM (88.9), UC Irvine's radio station. He also promoted a couple of clubs at Detroit.
"People had to go to L.A. or San Diego to see a band that has a certain amount of acclaim but hasn't broke yet. Detroit Bar has been filling a gap," he said.
Some of the buzz bands playing Detroit Bar include the Yeah, Yeah Yeahs and Broadcast. Many of them know the club's booking and events manager, Chris Fahey, through his career managing tours for bands such as Broadcast.
During downtime from tour managing in 2001, he heard his friend Bradley had plans to open Detroit Bar in what used to be Club Mesa, a defunct punk nightery.
Fahey offered to become the manager. More than 18 months later, he admitted his music programming feels more like a labor of love than a race for profit.
"You can bet it's an uphill battle," Fahey, 32, said. "Trying to turn on people to good music is a business risk."
But it's a risk appreciated by people such as Julene McBride, a dance teacher who thinks nightclubbing outside of music meccas like Hollywood usually is a night wasted.
"A lot of times people go out in Orange County just to pick people up. People here are more into art," said the 25-year-old blond from Lakewood. With that quip, she slid into an athletic break dance -- a move the crowd approved with a hearty roar.
Where: 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa
When: Daily, 7 p.m. to 1:45 a.m.
Cost: No cover except for Friday nights and shows. Covers from $5 to $15
Info: (949) 642-0600 or www.detroitbar.com