Finally, Irvine's gorgeous Metropolis has found its niche with the recent Tuesday night installation of Blade, a one-night-a-week club that dares to acknowledge what decade it is and offer music that doesn't necessarily have mass commercial appeal.
For starters, Metropolis owners the Hanour brothers (Gregg, Jon, David and Todd) were smart to enlist Los Angeles-based deejay Doc Martin, known for rotating techno at nightclubs and raves around the world. At Blade he seamlessly spins Euro, tribal, house and trance for the mostly college-age crowd. Warning: These sounds are not for the weak at heart. The bass booms like little sonic explosions woven into the electronically designed rhythms.
Those who generally find this genre monotonous after the first couple of songs might change their minds after listening to it combined with a live percussionist. Standing in a corner of the dance floor before a nine-foot speaker with four enormous woofers that pound out the bass-heavy techno, Shaheen accompanies the recorded tunes with his set of snares, congas and cymbals. His marathon performance is intensely mesmerizing.
Granted, the use of live musicians to supplement recorded music has been a common sight at the hippest of clubs worldwide for a few years now, but in Orange County it's still a novelty.
The same is true for another occasional feature at Blade known as Dr. X-Static and his Brain Trip Machine, which used to make the rounds at raves up and down the coast. Dr. X is Aaron Cohick, a Yorba Linda performance artist armed with a precursor to virtual reality programs. His contraption promises a five-minute, drug-free trip via a pair of dark sunglasses wired to a computer.
Keeping eyes closed, patrons experience flashing lights through a range of frequencies that, according to Cohick, train the alpha waves in the brain. The brain then organizes what it sees into patterns and abstract forms. At a buck a try, it's a cheap ride worth the fun.
It's also among the least pricey activities at Metropolis, where the weekday rate to play pool for an hour on one of the 15 red-felt tables is $10. Club-goers on a budget, however, can cash in on the $2 drink specials all Tuesday night for all wells, wine and imported and domestic draft beers.
A month old, Blade has yet to consistently reach full capacity. It fluctuates between crowded and comfortable--though even the latter can be considered phenomenal for a Tuesday night in Irvine.
(The regular presence of area deejays just hanging out here is a sign of Blade's--and Doc Martin's--status on the club circuit.)
With UCI across the street, the club apparently attracts mostly twentysomething-student types. Among them are fans of the music, who dress the part ever so fashionably in staple black with futuristic mod flair. Of course, they stand side by side at the bar with the local yups.
When not dancing, drinking or shooting pool, club-goers can check out the ubiquitous go-go dancers (yawn) who look like bodybuilders in training, or nibble on a late-night snack at the sushi bar.
* At Metropolis, 4255 Campus Drive, Irvine.
* (714) 725-0300.
* Tuesdays only, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
* Cover: $5.