When Cornelius “The Rev” Brown belts out “I Will Survive” he turns the sappy you-broke-up-with-me- but-you-didn’t-break-me song into a female bonding experience.
Forget that Brown’s not a female because he sings like a scorned woman. He does that flippant hand wave when he sings about the ex-lover’s return, screams, “I’m not that chained up little person still in love with you” and physically pushes the heartbreaker away while singing, “Go now go, walk out the door.” In fact, Brown makes being dumped sound like the perfect path to self-discovery.
Maybe he’s been there, or, maybe it’s just that even the wallflowers at the Safari Bar will get up the nerve to boogie to this song. Some nights it’s the calling card that gets the party going.
Brown’s revue is part of a massive disco tribute that is repeated every Friday night courtesy of his band, the Polyester Pimps. These guys are in a ‘70s time warp. They sport afro wigs and thick gold chains, psychedelic sunglasses and polyester bell-bottoms.
In keeping with the spirit, the West Covina club comps the cover charge when patrons show up in ‘70s garb. Not many take up the offer, but regulars know that it doesn’t take any extra effort to dress in what is already in fashion.
Take buddies Tamecah Harper, Jennifer Sambas, Gina Leehuis and Holly Williams. The twentysomethings drive 10 minutes to the club each Friday and they know the routine. On a recent night Williams accessorized with thigh-high stockings while Harper was decked out in a wide-collar shiny shirt, bell-bottoms and a slick pair of platform shoes.
These girls are disco divas. They race to get under what might be the biggest disco ball in town and groove to “We Are Family” and “Car Wash.”
In keeping with the jungle theme the restaurant-bar sports an animal motif. Zebra-patterned booths line the walls of the bar and faux stuffed rhinoceros, toucan and lion heads protrude from the walls.
The 8-year-old club is part of a national chain of bars. The West Covina site is the only Safari Bar with a discotheque.
Gen X suburbanites are the regulars, but the weekly events calendar draws even a few city slickers.
On Wednesday’s, KROQ (107.7-FM) deejay Jed the Fish plays alternative tunes and on Saturdays KIIS (102.7-FM) deejay the Nasty Man spins Top 40 and dance music. Sunday it’s reggae night and on Thursday the Safari Bar turns into the Voodoo Lounge with funk music.
There is a pool table and pinball machine for game players and the hungry patron can always find a Tex-Mex style snack in the Juarez Grill, which doesn’t stop feeding folks until last call.
Where: The Safari Bar, 2917 Eastland Center Drive, West Covina. (818) 915-6022.
When: Wednesday-Friday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.
Cost: Cover varies. Buffalo wings and fish tacos, $5.95. Domestic beer, $3.50; frozen drinks, $4.25.