Heeeyyyy there, rock 'n' rollers! Find the '80s too weighty? Take a hike down the Pike, take a step to the hep, make a move to the groove . . . and retro on down to Rockville's hottest new nightclub, Studebaker's -- "the 'original' entertainment vehicle," as the club's slogan goes.
Leave your life style on the doorstep. Studebaker's, open here since July, is a never-never land of invented nostalgia, the gospel according to "American Graffiti." It's the myth of the malt shop, a movie-set cross between the soda fountain of the '40s and the curb-service cruise zones of the '50s.
The club (a high-concept franchise that originated in Atlanta in 1981) is done to drop-dead in diner deco. The shapes are shrugged-shoulders arch -- from the bullet-nosed 1950 Studebaker Champion out front to the dome-topped Wurlitzer 1015. The long twin bars are bumper-shaped, the glass-block deejay's booth is bowed, the chandeliers are layer-cake chrome.
And for all the fancy liquor bottles behind the bar, the effect is strictly Cherry Coke. Studebaker's has the Beatles on the wall, but "Beach Party" in its heart. Its pre-Fab fantasy is tentative, ambivalent, adolescent. White tile and pink neon, virgin ice and lipstick passion. Womb to tomb, haut to faux.
It hints of knotted ties and French foundations; of a time when the pop-shop bop looked like a pep rally (and the carhops dressed like cheerleaders), when drinking, not dancing, was dirty. In the current Pike psych, Studebaker's is a safe-sex sock hop. Rock around the block.