12 Jan 2021
by mike.lee | News
Asia has become the biggest emerging market in the world for nightlife, resulting in this corner of the world becoming the home to some of the most culturally significant music institutions in recent history.
At the centre of this emergence is Hong Kong - a futuristic cultural haven set against a combative political landscape. This kind of dichotomy weighs heavy on the conscience of the younger population in HK, leading to elevated methods of escapism, and that, in turn, leads to some of the best nightclubs in the world:
Oma is a venue fast approaching legendary status if it hasn’t achieved it already. Previously known as Phi-b, Yumla and Midnight & Co, over the last decade, the cramped-but-beloved Lan Kwai Fong dancefloor has slowly but surely become part of Hong Kong’s cultural fabric. The 90-person dancing space has hosted Studio Barnhus co-founder Axel Boman and Pampa Records boss DJ Koze and are widely lauded for its thoughtful and cutting edge weekly parties. This is an institution that takes clubbing seriously, and it shows. In May 2020 while less astute venues floundered and panicked, Oma's new boss quietly renovated the club’s sound and light systems, allowing them to return louder than ever with the newly the packed punch of a custom Funktion One sound setup. Given the club’s ethos, its dedication to a flawless nightlife experience is to be expected - especially from a venue whose official motto is
“Never Ever Stop Dancing”
Headed up by Hong Kong talisman Ocean Lam, Social Room is one of Hong Kong’s most reliable spots for a no-nonsense shot of euphoria. As with many of the best nightclubs, there is no extravagance in the club’s interior, velour booths make way for exposed brick and industrial fittings, whilst the club’s iconic feature is a modest red brick wall. This is, of course, because every ounce of energy that is heaped into Social Room (which is a lot), is used to fuel the music and those who deliver it. The curation is studiously organised and innovative, striking a satisfying balance between local crews and foreign up-and-comers, but one thing that remains consistent no matter what day of the week you turn up is an irresistible urge to move your feet.
Mihn launched in 2018 with a single mission - to be “a safe space for anybody wishing to spend a night dancing without being judged, harassed or discriminated against.” Going back to New York in the 70s and 80s, nightclubs have always been a place for inhibitions to be shed. A place to congregate away from the prying eyes of authority or social expectation. This appeal is timeless and every country to enjoy a surge in nightlife activity has done so off the back of these principles. Minh is the embodiment of this ideology. It would not feel right to reveal the inner workings of the club here - we recommend instead that you experience it for yourself. Check your ego at the door.
Potato head falls a little outside the bounds of other clubs discussed here. Indeed one of Potato Head’s most enticing characteristics across all of its locations in Bali, Singapore, and Hong Kong is that there isn’t exactly a word to describe what it is they do. At least not yet. PH themselves opt for the terminology ‘ Creative Village ’ and that’s probably as close as you can get to a reasonable explanation. The Music Room at Potato Head Hong Kong is a laid back, a cerebral environment designed by artistic director Johnny Hiller and home to some 6000 records. A sophisticated haute-cuisine of sonic treats, including vintage JBL speakers and a strictly analogue setup, we advise you to make room in your nightlife calendar for a trip here.
Another of Hong Kong’s best low-key joints is Salon 10. A former private member’s club, Salon 10’s current curator has ditched the snooty elements of exclusivity but retained the romantic. Specialising in Jazz, Latin, Soul, and generally championing a spontaneous sonic experience, as you descend into the bar you’ll notice oddball decor, portholes, and dozens more of those minuscule quirks that keep you coming back to your favourite watering hole.
It’s rare that you’ll recognise a Jazz group at Salon 10 (rarer still that the venue will list them anywhere for you to find out), but that, of course, is part of the charm.
Terrible Baby is a melting pot for local and international music, off-the-wall audiovisual experiments, and creative, sustainably-sourced cocktails. Not just a consistent supporter of Hong Kong’s thriving underground music scene, Terrible Baby also, curate some of the most interesting acts from across the world for their programme. In keeping with their philosophies, you’ll often find them playing host to independent acts who operate somewhere between art and music, such as London’s Jimothy Lacoste and Sega Bodega.
Finally, in addition to its cultural offerings, TB (from the French expression L’Enfant Terrible’), boasts indoor and outdoor music spaces, a balcony with an organic, tropical feel, lounge seating, and enviable views of the city. The question is - what’s not to like?