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Un-Trendy Underground

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In Hollywood, paying a cover at a popular nightclub is akin to saying, “I’m a loser,” because it’s interpreted as having no juice or connections.

Not so in Long Beach where, at a recent visit to the Clipper, we watched folks eagerly cough up a 10-spot to see some live music. And once inside, they appeared--quite visibly--to be having a good time.

What makes this worth noting is that there’s a pervasive, self-conscious attitude infecting many Hollywood club-goers that, no matter how great the band on stage is, you’re still supposed to appear somewhat bored.

Again, not at the Clipper.

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This old-school sports bar in central Long Beach is undergoing a transformation into a live music hub, and few involved can wipe the smiles off their faces.

Two young promoters, David James and David Salinger--known collectively as Outsider Entertainment--noted that many clubs in the area had turned away from booking good old punk and underground rock in favor of rockabilly and swing. The consensus was that, with Bogart’s closed, bands that fit those descriptions had to go outside of the area if they wanted a gig.

After booking stints with the neighboring Tiki Bar and Foothill Club, the promoters met Randy Roberts, the owner of the Clipper, and voila, a scene was born.

The Clipper is proof-positive that sometimes it doesn’t matter what a venue looks like or whether its decor follows a current trend; if it’s got heart, you can feel it from the moment you walk in. And currently, the Clipper is alive with live music and Foosball fans alike.

The 50-year-old nightclub is composed of two long rooms containing video and pinball games, three billiard tables, steel-tip darts, more than a dozen TV screens and the aforementioned Foosball--a game folks are willing to line up for here.

But on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, when Outsiders invites local and touring acts to perform, the focus is on the Clipper’s stage, which was recently expanded and given a new sound system, boosting the volume to the appropriate ear-ringing level for a punk rock club.

Kicking off the Clipper’s rebirth in November with a Humpers show, the club has maintained an interesting lineup. Such touring acts as Seattle’s Zeke (who recently signed a three-record deal with Epitaph), Vancouver’s Hanson Brothers and recent expats Billyclub (featuring members of the U.K. Subs and the Exploited) have performed at the Clipper, along with such O.C. locals as U.S. Bombs and Throw Rag (soon to be the next big thing out of Costa Mesa).

Shows slated for this weekend feature multiple-band lineups, highlighted by Dead Man’s Choir on Friday and Los Infernos on Saturday.

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Things are working out so well that the Clipper is giving something back to its legion of new fans: most Thursday night shows now come free of cover charges--for everyone.

Good luck finding that in Hollywood.

BE THERE

The Clipper, 3325 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. (562) 597-0014. 21 and over, cover varies.

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