Irvine’s Slightly Secret Nightlife
By Archana Venugopal
It’s no secret that Irvine isn’t exactly known for its crazy nightlife. In fact, the talk is usually about the opposite: Irvine doesn’t have one. Still, even if the campus seems empty at night, there are quite a few places in Irvine to chill with friends and enjoy each other’s company at night.
Let’s start with a classic: galaxy bowling. This is a fun activity for everyone because it is a game based on group bonding and relaxing, along with a little bit of competitiveness to keep it interesting. A short car ride from campus, Irvine Lanes provides galaxy bowling with plenty of music and food, adding a little extra something for every person in the group to enjoy themselves. Bowling at night also makes the game more interesting, with fog machines, lasers and fun lighting making it an entirely different experience compared to bowling during the day. Galaxy bowling is hosted on Friday and Saturday nights for $16 per person, it includes unlimited games between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 p.m.. Those who prefer cheaper games can go bowling Monday through Thursday after 5 p.m. for $2 games and $3 shoes.
For those who like to be less active, karaoke is a more suitable option. Plush in Diamond Jamboree is open until 2 a.m., allowing students to sing passionately late into the night. For shyer people, singing in groups is less scary and just as fun. Rooms start at $30 an hour for a small room, large enough for 4 or 5 people, to $70 for a VIP room which holds up to 40 people. There are also happy hours on Saturday and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. ranging in price from $15 to $35 an hour. Finally, for those who really love belting it out, Plush offers “all you can sing” rates starting at $15 for unlimited time.
Some students prefer dancing to singing, which brings us to nightclubs. When students want to doll themselves up and go dancing late into the night, clubbing is a great option. Many campus organizations host clubbing events, so keep an eye out for the next opportunity. Most of them even provide rides, allowing students without cars to be able to go and dance the night away as well. The price can range depending on the event, but $15 to $20 is a safe bet, possibly with an additional $10 if taking the bus.
When simply looking for a place to sit back and relax, what’s better than dinner and a show at the Irvine Improv Comedy Club, located at the Irvine Spectrum. There, you can sit with friends, have a meal and listen to live entertainment in the form of stand-up comedy. There are always new comics coming in, making it a destination each week. Also, being located in the Spectrum means that you can walk around and enjoy window-shopping before or after the show. Tickets for the shows start at $15 per person and increase accordingly for special-event comedians. There’s also the option for dining, with food priced mostly around $10.
Unfortunately, for people who don’t have cars, options are much more limited, especially since a lot of buses end their routes at 10:30 p.m. or so. There are still some creative ways to get together with friends and relax at night, and one of the top choices is stargazing. This activity is very weather-dependent and may not be the perfect option in winter, but during early fall and late spring, the nights are warm and breezy enough to make it enjoyable. Aldrich Park can be a pretty nice place to stargaze, but with a 30-minute walk, William R Mason Regional Park can be even prettier, with much more open space and less light pollution that would block the beauty of the stars. Bring along a late-night picnic and some cozy blankets, start trying to find constellations and the night is sure to be a great experience for everyone. The price for this can range from free to how much you decide to spend on snacks or bus fare. . (If taking OCTA, the fare is $1.50 each way, and change isn’t given, so bring $1 in quarters.)
In any case, even with the constant talk of Irvine’s lack of nightlife, it’s pretty clear that there’s plenty that can be done once the sun has set and the urge to go out and have some fun arises. Whether it’s sticking to old favorites, like bowling or karaoke, or checking out an Improv Comedy club for the first time, there are many ways to get together with friends and enjoy the night. Viva la noche!