Let me use the analogy of male and female orgasms to respectively portray the décor of Klubb Rouge and China Doll since these nightspots, which held pre-openings of sorts last night, seem intent on pushing the sex envelope.
Klubb Rouge’s would be short and intense, with a series of hard edges, fleeting glimpses of cavernous spaces, gleaming mirrors, and a color one might describe as “candy apple / Amsterdam red-light district”, and an abrupt ending akin to waking on a cold marble bar top. China Doll’s would be prolonged and morphing, with a psychedelic rush of soft colors, sensuous textures and shiny trinkets though innumerable nooks and crannies, after which you would need some air (and perhaps an aspirin). I could be wrong, but if this evaluation contains a grain of truth, I’d say the ladies have the better end of the deal.
In any case, these places are supposed to be “sexy” and this was made explicit last night so that we bar and club goers, apparently a dense lot, got it:
Expressionless models, wearing G-strings and strategically placed red paint, walking robot-like along 40 meters of bar top and looking like a cross between porcelain dolls, mannequins, and that alien from Mars Attack (Klubb Rouge). Check.
Huge pillars featuring 1930s-style Shanghai ad models who, in an apparent tribute to global warming, show more flesh than their twentieth-century sisters (Klubb Rouge). Check.
Super-sized full-color photos of scantily dressed women touching each other in a less than platonic manner (China Doll). Check.
OK. Next item on the agenda: Can these places make decent drinks?
I never did get one at Klubb Rouge, as people were wall-to-wall and the bar was cleared for that model catwalk thing, but three friends described the drinks as “OK” and “not bad“, though in two cases we are talking about Gin Tonics. I tried five drinks at China Doll and in terms of average quality they were, well, average. Odds are the drinks will rapidly improve in both places in coming months as the bartenders get into their comfort zones. By the way, I enjoyed parking at the China Doll bar, with its soft underbelly, and taking in the place’s rainbow of colors and treasure trove of eye candy. I’ll have more on this, on comparisons of the new China Doll with the old one (now Club China Doll), and on Klubb Rouge (I couldn’t even get on the deck last night due to the crowds).
The true test of these places will be when the drinks aren’t free and there isn’t a sexy over-the-top show. What matters then be the quality of the music, cocktails, service and vibe, week in and week out.
Both Klubb Rouge and China Doll officially open tonight.