Diva Productions hasn’t had problems getting a Rise out of local club culture.
The first-time promoters, an early-twentysomething trio, have packed the Studio Cafe since opening Rise there early in May. In fact, H.B. police hung around one recent evening demanding that the crowd inside be reduced and that the line outside cut a path for potential emergency exits.
Observers might conclude that the Diva triumvirate itself--the beauteously coiffed and clothed Gem, Brandi La Fleur and Rebecca Andre--constitutes this venue’s main attraction. But Rise also provides top deejay talent from Orange and Los Angeles counties and beyond: Beej, arguably Orange County’s leading spinmeister, plays the popular Club Rubber; Sean Perry is known for his work at L.A.'s Opium Den; Omar hails from Lotusland’s underground; and the Higher Messiah comes from the United Kingdom.
The three Divas, avid local club-hounds tired of driving to L.A. for their night life, are further benefiting from the expertise and lengthy guest-lists of two experienced aides-de-camp: Cory Marrero is an L.A. underground promoter, and Kevin Furly co-promotes Club XXX at Bar One, a swank, long-standing Beverly Hills establishment. Meanwhile, the trio continues to distribute fliers far and wide, drawing fashion-industry heavies as well as the local surf-and-skate set.
Some comers, in fact, arrive in baggies and tees, although Gem, Brandi and Rebecca are pushing for ‘90s glamour. Hair piled high, they set the standard on a recent night in long, mermaid-slinky dresses the lyrical color of Easter eggs and strappy 5-inch-high heels.
Stilettos like that can damage happy feet on the dance floor, particularly when the floor is as small as the one in the stylish Studio Cafe’s front room. It’s traversable with about five big steps. Fortunately, dancers spill out of bounds, commandeering extra footage.
The front room’s format is rare groove, and Beej owns wonderful vintage vinyl. The Rise crowd is 20ish, but such R&B; hits as Stevie Wonder’s 1972 “Superstition” should give baby boomers inspiration to boogie.
The music in the venue’s small back room is electronic. Blasted at thunderous levels, it rules out anything but dancing or sweating in the close, low-ceilinged chamber. So-called intelligent lighting is programmed to flash to the beat of trance, acid house, jungle, progressive and breakbeat.
To cool off, Rise patrons take to the cafe’s large patio overlooking Pacific Coast Highway and the beach. It can be impossibly crowded too, but at least it’s breezy--and liquid refreshment is sold out there. Drink specials, until 11 p.m., include draft beer for $1.50 and domestics and well drinks for $2. The kitchen serves appetizers and dinner until 9 p.m.
Disco Fans: Get thee to the Holiday Inn in Fullerton this weekend for three days and two nights of hustle dancing plus some West Coast swing, cha-cha, disco two-step and salsa. Local social dance teacher-promoter Tom Mattox is putting on the Rising Star Disco Weekend, to include competitions, intermediate and advanced workshops with top area teachers and day and evening dance parties to vintage hits. Friday-Sunday ticket (good for all three days): $65 adults, $45 ages 6-17. Friday or Saturday 9 p.m. dance only: $15. Holiday Inn, 222, W. Houston Ave., Fullerton. (714) 992-1700 or (310) 923-2623.
Rise, at the Studio Cafe, 300 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 201, Huntington Beach. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday. Cover: $6. (714) 536-8775.