PUNK IN ANAHEIM: CAN IT LAST?
A young woman with platinum-blond hair stood with several friends along one wall of the crowded, dark, smoky interior of Flashdance, the Anaheim bar that has become headquarters for Orange County punk and new-music bands.
As she waited for the Vandals’ performance to begin last Friday, she periodically poked her head into the club’s kitchen, trying to catch a breath of semifresh air.
“This is as bad as the Concert Factory!” she remarked to one of her group. She was referring to the Costa Mesa club that was the only outlet for punk in Orange County until it was sold and went dark last June.
Despite (or, perhaps, because of) the adverse conditions, the blond fan stayed, along with more than 100 of her youthful peers, simply because there have been so few opportunities locally to see bands such as the Vandals, T.S.O.L., Social Distortion, Youth Brigade and the others Flashdance has featured in the last two months.
Like the Concert Factory, Flashdance (2810 W. Lincoln Ave.) is not what most people would describe as comfortable. The club’s low ceilings seem to amplify the heat, smoke and sense of crowding, and its rugged interior reflects the rowdy--but not seriously destructive--conduct of punk fans.
“It does take a certain amount of wear and tear,” owner Jim Schumann said with a laugh, sitting at the Flashdance bar Wednesday. “But if I have to put on a new coat of paint every couple of months, that’s no big deal.”
Strictly by word-of-mouth advertising, the 160-capacity club has achieved instant popularity because it is attempting to succeed where so many others have failed.
Schumann, 35, a former bartender, opened Flashdance as a neighborhood bar last January, after he won a liquor license in the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Department’s annual license lottery.
For the first few months, the club’s live entertainment consisted of Top 40 bands. But after Halloween, Schumann and booking agent Ed Christensen started bringing in punk acts, and patronage picked up considerably. “Now, having 40 or 50 people in here is a slow night,” Schumann said. “That used to be a good night for me.”
This weekend’s lineup features D.I. today (Jan. 4), the Joneses on Saturday and the Hated on Sunday. Next Friday (Jan. 11), T.S.O.L. is scheduled to return, and on Jan. 13, it will be Tex & the Horseheads.
Given the unsuccessful track record of punk in Orange County, Flashdance has surprised the local music scene by remaining open as long as it has, and its future appears tenuous.
Anaheim Police Sgt. Jim Brantley, supervisor of the vice division that enforces state liquor laws, said, “They have had some problems. We have made arrests, both in the parking lot and inside the club, primarily for minors possessing and consuming alcohol.”
“We’re not against having a place where young people can gather,” Brantley said. “But there’s an economic factor that the rock groups don’t seem to make enough money just charging admission, so there’s got to be another income source. When that turns out to be alcohol, I don’t care how diligent the club owner tries to be, there are problems.
“When those problems become so obvious that it’s happening daily, on a perpetual basis, it’s apparent that no matter what effort the owner is making--such as hiring outside security--it’s not working.”
Flashdance also got a mixed review from Joe Escalante of the Vandals. Following the band’s two shows Friday, Escalante said, “I’m glad we played there once, but I wouldn’t want to play again. The guy who’s booking the shows was doing his best to be cool, but the employees there were the rudest people I’ve ever met. I think once they realize they stand to make some money, they’ll be in a better mood.”
Escalante praised Schumann, however, for being fair with the group financially. “We get ripped off a lot, but he was very fair with the door. He stood right there after the shows and counted off our money.”
Schumann insisted that he and Christensen are striving to eliminate the problems by having a security guard patrol the parking lot, and by tightening identification screening to keep minors away from alcohol. (Because food is served at Flashdance, persons under 21 are allowed in the club.)
Annette Ambrose, who runs the door on the five nights Flashdance has concerts, said that “99% of the kids who come in are fine, but there are always one or two who cause some trouble.” (The club is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.)
Schumann added, “I think the kids are being real cooperative because they realize what closed the other (punk) clubs and that this place might be their last chance. I like it because I’m tired of Top 40 bands who play the same old thing. And I almost went broke during the summer with Top 40 bands. The kids want a place like this, and I think there is a need for it.”
“Overall,” Schumann said, “I’ve had a lot less trouble since I started doing punk than when it was a neighborhood bar.”
LIVE ACTION: The Untouchables will be at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach Jan. 11. . . . Psychobud returns to Radio City in Anaheim Jan. 19. . . . Tanya Tucker will play the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana Jan. 21.
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