The Place: Circle Bar, 2926 Main Street, Santa Monica; 310-450-0508.
The Hours: Sat.-Thu. 9 p.m.-2 a.m.; Fri. 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
The Digs: The fact that Jim Morrison did some drinking at this downtown Santa Monica mainstay means nothing to us. He would do it anywhere he could, surely never turning up his nose at the opportunity to, at least in spirit, slurp a slushy cocktail at Chili's or even enjoy an overpriced airport beer. From the tattooed female bartenders crowned in trucker hats to the dance floor high-fives, Circle Bar swims in Spring Break tropes, which the Lizard King, considering his prominence on the walls of college dorm rooms, possibly would not have a problem with either.
Here, white people dance badly to mainstream rap music. Arms out, looking down, invited or not, the fellows frequently elect to move their bodies around ladies as opposed to with them. High school-style, a la the Roxbury Boys, but with shades propped behind the ears and untucked white-collared shirts instead of shiny suits. To a non-participant, the scene is only mildly depraved, yet far from decadent -- a minor league half-cocked club scene you might stumble into but would never make a point of seeking out.
The Verdict: When you go to some bars, you come home -- seeking comfort, consistency, and quiet. You settle into a booth, watch a game, nibble some chips, and chat with the bartender. When you go to others, you go out. You search crowds for fresh faces and Patron. For those who leave the house to come home, Circle Bar will revolt; for those tramping out into the night to shake a leg and do shots, it will only disappoint. There is one bathroom, about two too few. It is crowded, mobbed to the degree that you must smear yourself to the wall like a poster in order to avoid being trampled by surging waves of sodden humanity. And to make matters worse, the bar in the middle of the room isn't even shaped like a circle.
Final Grade: C-