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Club Live, O.C.'s Vegas

September 18, 2003|Andrew Asch | Special to The Times

Chris Brown steps out of a giant stretch limo with an entourage of lingerie-clad women. To many, he may seem like he's on top of the world, but he knows he's nothing special at Anaheim's Club Live. According to Brown, it's one of the only clubs where people can be as bling-bling as they want to be.

"There's not that many clubs that give people the chance to showcase their style," said Brown, 31, a promotion manager at Costa Mesa retailer "If you want to show off, this is the place to do it."

An estimated 2,000 other twenty- and thirtysomethings join Brown on a quest to clutch the most expensive purse or make the most outrageous entrance at Orange County's biggest nightclub, held once each month at The Grove of Anaheim. It's a mission, as some club regulars like Lorenzo Fuerte maintain, that is not overcome by snobbery.

"In L.A., you can't get into a club if you're not a somebody. Here you can get in. That's if you get here before the club fills to crowd capacity," said Fuerte, 30, who was wearing a sleeveless basketball jersey with the logo of "Hustler" magazine emblazoned on the front.

Equal access to glitz is something producers Altan Aksu, 36, and Darryl Garcia, 31, hoped to provide when they began producing events at larger places after 10 years of promoting shows at mid-size venues such as Costa Mesa's Shark Club. The move was inspired by their frequent trips to Las Vegas.

"Everyone wants to go to Vegas and dress up," Aksu said. " You can do pretty much the same thing in L.A., but who wants to drive all the way up there?"

This glamour, convenient for those living south of the 91 Freeway, starts on a ghetto-fabulous note at the Grove's entrance. It's the location of the Hip Hop Patio, where deejays like Gilbert S. do double duty deejay-ing the sounds of Sean Paul and Snoop Dogg, while sneaking in a few of their own rhymes to pump up the dancers. Some of them match slinky steps with Soul Train dancers of yore, others just watch, drink a beer and enjoy the balmy night.

The tempo changes to house in the Grove's lounge, where deejays play lively house music and B-Boys Dino, Tails and Upbeat treat the crowd to energetic, herky-jerky break dancing. By day, these B-Boys work for Aksu, passing out fliers for Club Live. During club hours, they push their own agenda through dance.

"We try to wake people up. We try to show them something different in their lives," said Dino, born Dino Mayorga, 29, of Fullerton, who was wearing a simple T-shirt and painter's cap.

His alternative is clean living, which Mayorga tries to express through dance. He doesn't publicly speak about it at the club, and who knows if anyone would listen? Sin beckons.

Across the lounge from the B-Boys, a stiff drink awaits those lucky enough to gain access to the VIP Room. Entry means wearing an all-access bracelet (it costs $20 extra). Past the security guards, the room looks like a lush New Orleans saloon. Deejay Tommy Castro spins 1980s music, and folks quietly lounge on plush couches, play pool and, of course, dance.

The main attraction is behind the lounge in the main room. Pulsing green lasers light up dramatic stage sets, the loud, thumping beat of resident deejay Daniel makes dancers' bones shake. Towering over the dance floor is a team of 16 go-go dancers taking turns bumping and grinding on tall 5-by-5-foot platforms.

Those who came for the music can be found near the deejay -- frenetically boogying close to the stage. Then there's most of those in the crowd, devoting their time to socializing, flirting and keeping their eyes glued to the bikini-clad go-go girls.

That's the Vegas-style atmosphere Aksu intended to inject into Orange County entertainment. Lately, entertain- ment means getting top deejays such as Donald Glaude, DJ Irene and Richard "Humpty" Vission to spin at the club.

Aksu said he often spends $15,000 to $20,000 to produce one night of Live, but making a profit is a roll of the dice; the last four parties were in the red, in the neighborhood of $2,000 each, Aksu said.

Fortunately for Garcia and him, their finances aren't dependent on nightclubbing. They have other jobs. Garcia is a video-production supervisor. Aksu works for his family's business and also plays the stock market.

They work on Club Live for the excitement. They also consider it a public service for their hometown, a way they can give something fabulous to the OC. "It's like a prom, but it's monthly.... It's a place to be seen," 24-year-old Mary Jane Alvarez, of Hungtinton Beach, says as she watches limos pull up to the club.


Club Live

Where: The Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim

When: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and the third Saturday of each month

Who's playing: Richard "Humpty" Vission, DJ.

Cost: $20, $40 for VIP Pass

Info: (714) 517-7737 or

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