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NIGHT LIFE

Proof of Santa Ana's arrival on the dance floor

December 06, 2007|Charlie Amter

NO longer is the indie electro-dance music craze relegated to clubs in Hollywood and environs. Proof, a small venue in the heart of Santa Ana's arts district near busy restaurants such as Memphis, is offering Angelenos incentive to do the reverse commute -- as well as a reason for O.C.'s dance-music fans to stay close to home.

"The fact that L.A. people are now driving down here is a beautiful thing," Proof owner Joey Mendes says. "In the past, everyone would complain about the drive to L.A. just to hear some good music. And now to see people from L.A. come down here . . . it's beyond nice."

Every Friday the cozy, narrow bar hosts a popular weekly called Mute. And Saturdays at Proof (a night called Trust OC) are picking up thanks to promoters Matt Papp and Nick Lynn.

"We are trying to pull off a bit of an L.A. vibe down here," says Papp, 22. And although his partner acknowledges that there is no way they will be able to compete with larger clubs in Los Angeles, or even in surrounding O.C. cities, a scene is building at Proof.

"There is an electro indie scene in O.C.," Lynn says. "I know there are a lot of prejudgments about Orange County, but we're trying the break those down with our night by offering something different than what the normal clubgoers are into here."

To be sure, more upscale O.C. clubbing options are plentiful at venues including Fury and the Shark Club. But Proof is catering to indie-rock kids who have recently discovered underground dance music artists such as Justice and don't necessarily feel like driving to Los Angeles to have a good time. This week's fare features buzzing L.A. duo LA Riots, along with Atlanta's DJ Treasure Fingers.

Mendes couldn't be happier.

"In the beginning, it was solely Santa Ana IDs at the door," he says. But since late 2005, the bar has been luring slightly more adventurous crowds ready to dance to something other than Ludacris.

"We decided to focus on good music," he says. "We had a lot of gangbangers and troublemakers at the bar in the past and have since instituted a no-hip-hop and no-top-40 rule."

And although you may hear the occasional old-school hip-hop track (like Peaches' recent "Wild Thing" remix with Tone Loc) on a Saturday night, you certainly won't hear Mike Jones on the dance floor.

According to Papp, Orange County twentysomethings aren't all into mainstream music -- despite prevailing stereotypes. "People here want to know what else is out there other than listening to Sublime in a dive bar," he says.

-- Charlie.Amter@latimes.com

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TRUST OC

WHAT: Weekly dance night at Proof, 215 N. Broadway, Santa Ana

WHEN: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays

PRICE: Free before 10:30 p.m.; $10 after

INFO: (714) 953-2660; www.proofbar.com

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