By Ramon Gonzales
More than any other decade, the pop culture influence of the 80’s seems to still resonate with young and old alike. From the fashion, the films, the art, and the music, more than a generation has passed and still, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t sing along to Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”. For high school friends become business partners, Danny Sanchez and Dave Esqueda, the days of geeking out to Bauhaus, Oingo Boingo, and Depeche Mode forged what would become a lifelong passion.
Opening the first ever all 80’s themed restaurant and nightclub in Orange County this month, Totally 80’s Bar & Grille, Sanchez is the now the owner and operator of three locations (New Wave Bar/Bellflower, That 80’s Bar/Montclair) all devoted entirely to all things 80’s. However, wall décor and tongue-in-cheek drink titles like “Blue Monday” are really just the start when it comes to Totally 80’s. Sanchez’s commitment to authentically recreating the 80’s runs deep. “I went and bought a Delorean,” grins Sanchez. “It’s going to be the first thing people see when they walk into this place. I’m having the flux capacitor added and everything.”
Totally 80’s Bar & Grille in Fullerton marks the culmination of nearly two decades worth of blood, sweat, and beers for Sanchez. Cutting his teeth as an independent club promoter, Addiction, was Sanchez’s first New Wave foray. Earning multiple “Best 80’s Club” mentions via Southern California tastemakers and media outlets, the weekend staple was always Danny’s flirtation with something bigger. “We (Sanchez, Esqueda) always knew there was demand for a nightlife option for the 80’s generation. The music, film, television, sports, video games, and fashion were all drastically different then any other time in history. There are people that wanted to celebrate that we wanted to be the place where they could do it.”
From club promoter to club owner, Sanchez managed to not only open three unique locations throughout Southern California, but opened three multi-faceted destinations that pay tribute to the 80’s, in just three years. Among the testimonials from those that lived it, Sanchez has held exclusive performances from the likes of A Flock of Seagulls, Berlin, Missing Persons, When In Rome, Naked Eyes, and works closely with the undeniable ambassador of the 80’s, radio legend and current Jack FM host, Richard Blade. It’s a live homage that has struck a chord among partygoers.
“We actually have found the younger generation, 21 to 29, are very knowledgeable about the 80’s. When we were growing up our parents listened to music from the 60’s and 70’s which naturally became part of my playlist when I was in my 20’s. Considering how influential this time in history was, I think it’s only natural that there is a demand for this kind of experience when it comes to nightlife.”
Far from the costume parties that plague the decade, there is a real sense of sincerity from Sanchez fortified in the brick and mortar of all three locations. From the murals of Robert Smith, Siouxisie Sioux, Ian Curtis, and of course Richard Blade, to the hypercolor neon and the continuous stream of tunes that vary from new wave to post punk, it’s an incredible thing to hold sway over a destination that allows different generations to celebrate the same thing under the same roof.
As the official afterparty location for Jack FM’s 9th Show, fans can keep the night going after soaking in sets from Joan Jett, Violent Femmes, and Bow Wow Wow. Stacked with well-versed DJs that manage to have a knack for playing timeless hits, Orange County now has a destination for people that value taste over the turntup.
Don’t miss the Jack’s 9th Show After Party at Totally 80’s Bar & Grille, 2512 W. Orangethorpe Ave. in Fullerton.