When thinking happening nightlife hub, Chula Vista isn't usually the first place that comes to mind. But, when I heard the promoter's directions for an upcoming party: “Next to the Yum Yum Donuts, by the WIC store,” I couldn't resist and hauled ass south on Interstate 5. Destination: Hi Ball (626 E. St.), the bar that time forgot.
After checking to see if I hadn't accidentally set my navigation system to 1971, I went past the bar's quartz-adorned fort and ventured in. This Korean-run haunt is all you'd expect from an old-school Chula dive. Year-round Christmas lights? Check. Mounted sea turtle on the wall to ward off the PETA types? Check. The piercing stares coming from a gaggle of over-the-hill Asian ladies who may or may not turn tricks on the side? Check.
All and all, it's the sort of place where you can show up in gym shorts with a candy bar in your pocket and still feel like a boss.
Celebration was in the air as I stepped in and owner Monica strapped a neon-green wristband on me. turns out the bar was celebrating its 10th anniversary (of what, exactly, I don't know; fumigation, I'm guessing).
“Does this mean I get to drink for free?” I asked the big boss.
“You wish!” she replied in her Seoul-ful accent.
Slighted, and slurping on my room-temperature Modelo, I took a second to soak up the sights. Remnant strands of fake Halloween cobwebs hung from the ceiling (at least I hope they were fake), a Harry Potter-esque broom—which a bar tender later referred to as her “car”—rested atop some mounted speakers and a steady stream of South Bay hipsters made their way in, thanks to the North Park-approved DJ lineup.
“You know what? I'm over this!” Jorge Medina, half of DJ duo The Office Twins said to fellow beatmaster Kid Wonder as they stood by the bar. They were arguing over who would get to play LMFAO's “Party Rock Anthem.” It was later settled with an arm-wrestling match.
Triumphantly, Medina played the “Anthem” at full-blast, almost man aging to knock the prop broom from its place. He got the party poppin'— so much that one of the middle-aged beauties who calls the place home started getting freaky with a barstool before joining the crowd that had amassed on the dance floor.
Shuffling to the jam's catchy chorus, she homed in on me, dropped it like it was hot for full effect and went in for the kill.
“Ooh! You happy to see me?” she said in a sultry tone.
“Nope,” I replied. “That's just a Twix in my pocket.”