Signal Lounge: A Dive Bar That Brings Mothers and Daughters Together
[Editor's Note: We all know local music and dive bars go hand-in-hand. So in the interest of merging the two together on Heard Mentality, we bring you our weekly nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read as our bold web editor, Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby, stumbles into the dive bar scene every week to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]
After serving us our bottled Pacificos, the Patriots-T-shirt-wearing bartender walked around the bar to sit on the other side, between a young woman with glasses and a 30-ish man with a baseball cap. "You guys are crazy," she said, diving back into her banana split and large McDonald's drink.
"Oh, come on," the young lady replied. "You know we're your only source of entertainment every Sunday night. Everybody else is fucking boring."
And while I suppose I was included in that generalization, the girl wasn't too far off. I walked into the Signal Lounge in Orange at 8:30 p.m. on a Sunday to the sounds of silence, faint chatter and billiard balls clacking. Just across the street from Fred Kelly Stadium in El Modena, the place is about twice the size of your traditional neighborhood dive and very . . . brown. A long U-bend bar snakes through half of the room, while pool tables are placed on the other half, with bathrooms in the middle. A personalized vintage cigarette machine, stocked with a variety of Marlboros and Camels, is tucked into the far corner of the bar--a rare and fleeting relic.
The bartender turned on the sound to the one flat-screen TV, tuned to The Real Housewives of New Jersey. The sound was low enough that I could ignore it, but it was harder to ignore the trio's conversation about the Kardashians. It was the same general conversation I've heard about them every time they seep into casual conversation: "I only watch it to laugh at them." Right.
Then, at 8:46 p.m., the silence stopped. "It's about time!" the bartender yelled. Three Rubenesque women walked in the back door and sat at the U-bend of the bar where some unattended drinks sat. One gal resumed drinking out of a full pitcher with a straw. My kinda woman.
It appears they'd been at another Orange watering hole, Marty's Cocktail Lounge, because one woman kept yelling, "Let's go back to Marty's!" I was glad they didn't because they really seemed to liven the place up, including our bartender--whom I learned is named Melinda.