It's 10 p.m. on a Tuesday--do you know where your 18-year-old is? Try Club Thrive at the Country Rock Cafe in Lake Forest, where young adults can schmooze and groove to their favorite tunes.
Club Thrive gives underagers something to do besides hang out at the mall, go to the movies or get into trouble. Sure, the under-21s receive a humongous black X on their right hand (to prevent bartenders from selling them alcohol), but at least they'll be sober enough to appreciate the Country Rock Cafe's decor.
Owner Tom Elsea renovated the cafe after its purchase in 1993. Walls covered in images of cactuses and foothills under a nighttime sky give the feeling of being in the desert. Breaking out of one wall is a breathtaking statue of four cowboys on horseback. Bolts of lightning crash behind; a full moon, beautiful enough to make any canine howl, hangs above.
Speaking of howling, some young ladies' dresses could make someone do just that. Tight clothing might make it difficult for blood to circulate all the way to the brain, but, hey, these gals come to have fun, not to think.
And what's more fun than meeting someone? Plenty of seating--and dark, quiet corners--allow for mingling with and filtering prospective dating material. If you can converse above thumping bass, that is.
House, funk and new wave music, thanks to DJ Daniel, blast throughout. At Thrive, bumping and grinding is voluntary; a huge dance floor gives people the freedom to boogie without feeling like sardines. Lasers, black lights and fog will almost make you forget it's not Saturday night.
Thrive's clientele consists mainly of partyers 18 to 25. Asked how she was enjoying herself, Denise Ovalle, 25, of Huntington Beach, happily replied: "Hessians and surfers and Marines, oh my!" I guess variety is the spice of life.
Over-21ers arriving before 11 p.m. will enjoy $2 domestic bottled beers and $2.25 well drinks. Later, drink prices range from $2.75 to $4.50. But please, don't drink so much that you want to jump on the mirrored saddle that hangs where a disco ball otherwise might.
In February, Thrive moved from Metropolis, where it had been for three years. Promoters Mark Anthony, Alton Aksu, Chris Friel, Gavin Haughui and Joe I run three other clubs in Orange County and will celebrate the opening of a fifth, in Huntington Beach, later this month.
Warning: Beware of ferocious security. Forget your ID and forget about getting inside. If you can handle a long line, followed by a pat-down search by a not-so-pleasant bouncer, you should have no problems. Just don't whine about the $5 cover charge.
Club Thrive at Country Rock Cafe, 23822 Mercury Road, Lake Forest. Tuesdays 9 p.m.-2 a.m. 18 and older. $5 cover. (714) 502-TRIP.