Defying El Nino to ruin another good Saturday, dancers at DeDe's got the party raging by 10:20 the other night, and the go-go dancers weren't even go-going yet.
When the two cage-less grinders did ascend their perches, the club's powerful strobes were flashing like lightning, but never blinding enough to obscure their nearly bare bods, nor the whooping crowd's admiration.
DeDe's is billed as an all-female event. Like the two dancers, however, the clientele represented the genders equally on a pre-Mardi Gras night that found Ripples, the mostly male gay club where the 5-year-old DeDe's promotion sets up every first and third Saturday, regaled with sparkly green, purple and gold.
Tricolored swathes of lame swagged from the second-story ceiling of the two-story venue, which inhabits a 50-year-old building on Ocean Boulevard, just across the street from the beach.
Indeedy, except for all the decoration, the place looks more like a big summer beach house than a nightclub. Windows with white wooden panes line three walls upstairs and offer a view of the Pacific (or of Long Beach's illuminated offshore oil rigs at night).
Square columns, also wood and white, flank the rectangular dance floor, which isn't sizable but feels bigger because it abuts a floor-to-ceiling mirror along the back wall. The ceiling is low, and all the recent rain had triggered a tiny leak above one spot at the bar, but nobody seemed to ail with rainy-day blues.
Beyond a touch of lipstick or a spangly shirt, few people dress up for this neighborhood nitery, but dancers in jeans and hiking boots made their shiny "Mardi Gras Winter Ball" beads jangle beneath three--count 'em, three--disco balls. The deejay behind a high-walled booth blared mostly disco, plus house, rap and techno.
The club has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, nowhere cozier than by the downstairs gas fireplace. There's room enough on a ledge to sit right in front of the flickering and watch the game being played on a single pool table.
A smaller bar, a few TV monitors (you'll catch RuPaul videos) and two electronic dartboards also occupy this front room, which is next to a smaller dance floor that's always reserved for country.
One downstairs feature provides a shocking reminder that intolerance persists. It's a glass brick partition, just inside the front door, installed a few years ago to protect patrons after bricks had been hurled at the club by passing motorists. Management says the bricks have ceased, but not the epithets, which are still heard occasionally from the street.
On a happier note, a topiary mermaid as well as smokers populate a quaint patio out back, where burgers get grilled on Sunday afternoons for a $12 beer bust/dance that is Ripples' most popular draw. Other than that, the club serves no food, but an adjacent deli/liquor store stays open a couple of hours past midnight on Saturdays.
For hungry Oscars fans, hors d'oeuvres prepared by 10 Long Beach restaurants will come with the $10 admission to an Academy Awards night fund-raiser March 23. The party, which begins at 5 p.m., will feature a performance by Ripples' all-male Dream Girls Revue and music by Cynthia Manley. A big-screen TV will air the awards. Prizes will be given for best celebrity look-alike costume, and proceeds will benefit the city's St. Mary's Medical Center, which serves people with AIDS.
Another tip: Whether visiting DeDe's or Ripples, there's ample parking across Ocean Boulevard in the free beach lot.
DeDe's, at Ripples, 5101 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. on the first and third Saturday of each month. Cover: $7. (562) 433-0357.