Can a strip mall space in Newport Beach magically transport clubbers to Hollywood, minus the drive? Owners of 8Eighty8, a new late-night dancing destination in the shadow of Orange County's John Wayne Airport, are betting on it.
"We met with the general manager of Drai's Hollywood [before opening], and he told us that 65% to 70% of his business comes from Orange Country," said 8Eighty8's new Executive Vice President Jim Haim Sarvey on a recent Saturday. He sat inside his newly opened club, formerly known as Red, nestled inside a fairly drab mini-mall.
"You don't need to go to L.A., you can come right here," Sarvey added.
8Eighty8's parent company, Ten Restaurant Group, which owns the 8,500-square-foot dance club and adjacent late-night eatery Ten Asian Bistro, hopes to stop the northbound migration of free-spending Orange County clubbers. The group is pitching the space's close-enough-to-the-beach orientation, already familiar to area residents from its past manifestations as Red and Tentation, as the home of a new Hollywood-meets-South Beach scene.
"It was time for a fresh feel," Sarvey said of the remodel. "It was more of a bordello look before and we just wanted to have everything clean, neat and sparkly."
The all-white bar with creamy embossed faux leather booths debuted its new South Beach-inspired look in late August, and since then locals have been lining up on weekends, even paying a $20 cover for a club experience that often comes for free at analogous L.A. nightspots.
"It kind of looks like Miami inside," Irvine resident Tanya Pirooz said Saturday as an Usher remix thumped in the background.
Clubland is fickle, and it remains to be seen whether the indoor-outdoor bar offers any serious competition for Hollywood — or even other local nightspots, such as the busy-on-weekends scene at Chateaux Lounge just across MacArthur Boulevard.
But, judging by the throngs inside last weekend, 8Eighty8 is off to a good start. By 10:30 Saturday evening, the stark white 770-capacity mini-club's dance floor was already packed; bottle service booths up above the crowd were sold out and provocatively dressed go-go dancers encouraged the wallflowers. DJ Splyce, a name familiar to Los Angeles club veterans, held down the mix, playing tunes that ran the gamut from Taio Cruz to Daft Punk for the up-for-anything audience.
"These people come to just party … there's a lot of energy here," the DJ said after his set. "In Hollywood, I feel like there's a lot of networking in addition to dancing."
Where: 4647 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach
When: Friday and Saturday evenings (adding Thursdays starting Oct. 21)
Price: $20 cover
Info: (949) 701-9020; http://www.8eighty8.com