The resort – an hour’s drive beyond Beijing – sat nestled among a dozen mountains, upon one of which The Great Wall snaked like gray piping on a green felt jacket. Its balconies, pillars, arches, stonework, gilded trim—all seemed as though they had been teleported from Europe with the wave of a magic wand. Upon its vast deck sat scores of attendees sipping cocktails and wine, and nibbling barbecued lamb, stewed beef, and potato salad studded with strawberries, grapes and bananas. As the afternoon dwindled, a small herd of tame deer materialized to mingle among those on the sprawling lawn.
Why, one might reasonably ask, were we there? A press conference for Klubb Rouge*, an establishment to soon open in downtown Beijing, a dozen floors above Hooters on Workers’ Stadium East Road.
Saturday’s event and the club might seem an odd juxtaposition, somewhat along the lines of strawberries in potato salad, but who am I to complain about getting out of the city. And that is what more than one hundred of us – PR people, F&B managers, magazine types, and the like – did as we gathered on three buses that first inched through downtown traffic and then wound past fields, farm villages, vegetable vendors, and reservoirs to the resort.
The press conference proved anticlimactic. A poorly planned Powerpoint presentation resulted in print too tiny to read, while the verbal delivery consisted largely of rah-rah sentiments such as, “it’s really going to change the club scene,” “it’s going to amaze your eyes and amaze your ears,” and “you will be really, really, really delighted.”
Fortunately, I was able to ask general manager David Blais a few questions on the deck (I’ve paraphrased his answers).
Is Klubb Rouge related to Bar Rouge in Shanghai?
No, although a consultant and DJ from Bar Rouge are working on the project.
How big is the club?
The club has 1400 square meters of space on the fourteenth floor of China View as well as a terrace with a 360-degree view, two private rooms, and a mezzanine that can hold 300 to 400 people. The total capacity is 1500 to 2000 people.
How much will cocktails cost?
About 70 to 80 kuai.
Will there be food?
No, at least not in the beginning.
It was then time to enjoy a sunny afternoon in sedate surroundings, and enjoy a buffet of salad, meat and fruit as well as an open bar. Things were made all the more delightful when one at our table – Ross “Papa JJ” Goulding of Time Out magazine – won a draw for a bottle of 1999 Dom Perignon that he decided was best consumed there and then.
We realized that all good things must come to an end (translation: the last bus was leaving). After grabbing a few beverages and petting the deer, we boarded the bus for Beijing and a traffic flow that became increasingly and excruciatingly slower as we approached city center.
The long ride put both physical and spiritual distance between us and the afternoon that had been. Just before we tranquilized Ross “Papa JJ” Goulding, whose elocution, while endearing, was scaring fellow passengers due to its volume and endurance, he hoarsely said: “Twas a great day, but how the memory fades. In the words of the great Rutger Hauer, ‘All those moments will be lost in time, like my upcoming three-day hangover tears in rain.’”
(And yes, the Champagne was worth including that quote in this post.)
As usual, apologies for the quality of the camera on my otherwise excellent K-TOUCH B922 phone, though in this case the somewhat surreal results fit the event.
Note: I will have more details on the club later this week.
* KLUBB is spelled with the “K” reversed and a double “B”, while ROUGE is spelled with the “R” reversed. I lack the technology, let alone the willpower, to duplicate it here.