The Pump Room is a Bikini Bar You Can Take Your Mom To
[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 nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read this week as our bold editor-in-chief, Gustavo Arellano stumbles into the dive bar scene to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]
"This is my favorite time of the night," said the cute Latina in a neon-orange bra and ass shorts as she poured me my third Jameson on the rocks. And what could she mean by that?
I was at the Pump Room in Orange, the legendary bikini bar I have passed almost weekly since my days at Chapman University in the late 1990s but only recently begun to visit. Her Eastern European colleague, wearing even tighter, skimpier clothing, purred at customers. Guns N' Roses rocked on the jukebox. Men played pool. Drunk couples embraced with increasing friskiness. It was 11:45 p.m. on a Saturday, and the place was hopping.
"What do you mean by that?" asked my best friend, Art, as he nuzzled a gin and tonic. The Latina didn't answer; she left to wash some tumblers. Art and I wondered whether a favorite customer was coming. Maybe her boyfriend, to pick her up? Were the girls going to do something skanky? Mysterious patron traditions about to ensue? Stuff even more bizarre, absolutely unprintable in this family paper?
The Latina returned. "What's your favorite thing of the night?" Art asked again, and she nodded toward a man just behind us.
"TA-MA-LES!" he barked over the modern-day hip-hop. "TA-MA-LES!"
"He's my favorite," she explained. Turns out the middle-aged Mexican regularly peddles tamales here to make a couple of extra bucks. She ordered one to save for later. "They're so good, and he's so nice. He's like a regular."
Awww, how pinche sweet! You expect the worst from bikini bars, as I noted in my review of Deva's in Tustin a couple of weeks back, but the Pump Room is as relaxed a bar as I've ever been to--and given the servers pour drinks and hand off popcorn while in their unmentionables, that's a stunning accomplishment. There are no lechers; there's no air of perversion, no attitude. It's mostly regulars of all ages, people who feel so at home they bring in pizza and other food with the knowing approval of the staff. You could take your mom here, and she wouldn't blink.