WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mystery bar number 35

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There are plenty of issues I could be writing about today, such as whether the Harbour Quays development will suck the life out of the CBD, the merits of the new Cathryn Monro sculpture planned to go outside the Musuem Hotel, and of course the endless transport debates. However, I seem to have got into a pleasantly intoxigenic mode this week, so it's time for another mystery bar.

Strictly speaking, no-one has guessed the current mystery bar yet, but "Anonymous" got very close on his or her second go. It's The Lab Underground, which has an entrance that is separate from The Lab itself, and used to be "graced" by a giant polystyrene sculpture of Einstein until the council decided that it defaced a historic building. There's still a bewildering collection of odd polystyrene figures throughout the bar itself, which otherwise would have little to distinguish it from the other sticky-carpeted dives mentioned by the guessers.

Mystery bar #35 - the barWhile The Lab Underground may have a lot of Eighties relics among its furniture, today's mystery bar doesn't look quite as Eighties as it should. It's decorated in neither black leather with chrome and neon, nor pastel shades of peach and teal, but instead revels in bright slabs of primary colour. It straddles the boundary between being exuberantly tacky and just a little too tasteful, with rainbow-coloured lighting along the bar and comfy, curvy banquettes on the opposite wall. It has a range of spaces, from intimate low-ceilinged booths to wide-open dancefloor.

Mystery bar #35 - patronsWhile the decor is not be too explicitly themed, they seem to be making up for it with the audio and visuals. The speakers pumped out old Queen and Pretenders songs, while plasma screens played clips from MacGyver and E.T. They didn't have a printed cocktail list, and since they were lacking vermouth a Martini was out of the question, but I get the feeling that this could be Fluffy Duck central.

Overall, it's not as horrendously cheesy as it could have been. In fact, I was almost disappointed! This is unlikely to appeal to the Good as Gold/Electroluxxe crowd of ironic mullets, lightning-bolt earrings and new-wave glam-punk electroclash mashups: instead, you should expect nostalgic thirtysomethings squealing with glee at hearing the Top 40 from 20 years ago. Which is what you get in about 80% of Wellington bars anyway. On the other hand, if they get a DJ to mix up some old Gary Numan, Art of Noise and Yazoo tracks, I'll be there in a flash.

11 Comments:

At 11:19 AM, July 07, 2006, Blogger Jo Hubris said...

Would that be the new Electric Avenue in which was once Saffron next to Espressaholic?

When I saw the sign go up in the window over the newspaper, I was like "I must put that in my mindbank so I can win on Wellurban!"

 
At 1:21 PM, July 07, 2006, Blogger dritchie said...

Yes, judging by the lights embedded in the bar (which were on the plans taped in the afore-mentioned window), I'd say this was Electric Avenue as well.

 
At 2:19 PM, July 07, 2006, Blogger Hadyn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:20 PM, July 07, 2006, Blogger Hadyn said...

Damn you Jo!

I had done the same thing (kept it in my mind) but I've been stuck in meetings until 1 and then I had to eat.</excuses>

Also I think Tom is secretly looking forward to going here.

 
At 2:30 PM, July 07, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

I knew that was going to be easy, even though they officially opened only last night (free house wine & snacks!), since they had all those signs and plans in the window. Most new bars make some sort of attempt at a sense of surprise.

Now, who's been to the original Electric Avenue? Extra points for knowing what that is, and why it was thus named.

 
At 2:49 PM, July 07, 2006, Blogger Maximus said...

You mean, as in Electric Avenue in Brixton? The one Eddy Grant sang about? Just near the Coldharbour Lane meat Market? Let me guess: was that the first place in London to have an electric lighting scheme down the main shopping street or something?

 
At 9:34 PM, July 07, 2006, Anonymous deepred6502 said...

It's also believed that "Electric Avenue", the song, was written about the Brixton riots of 1981.

 
At 1:08 PM, July 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now in the street there is violence
And then there's lots of work to be done
No place to hang out our washin'
And then they can't blame all on the sun

- not sure that those words are really Riot material...
- nor these:

We gonna rock down to
Electric Avenue
And then we'll take it higher

- but then again....

Workin' so hard like a soldier
Can't afford the things on T.V.
Deep in my heart I abhor you
Can't get food for the kid

 
At 1:16 PM, July 10, 2006, Blogger Maximus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:18 PM, July 10, 2006, Blogger Maximus said...

Unfortunately, both I and deepred6502 may be wrong. Apparently, the soong was written in 1982, so hence may not refer to 1981 Brixton riots...

Also, Mr Grant was, it seems, a resident of Birmingham, and may be referring to the Electric Avenue there, in a suburb of Brum called Aston. Slum flats i believe? But if you google Brum, up pops this lesser known fact:

"I believe quite sincerely that Birmingham has more beards per square metre than many other urban settlements. It also actually is the actual centre of the actual country, unlike London which just thinks it is."

more beards? Is this a sly reference to Tom's family?

 
At 10:55 AM, July 12, 2006, Blogger Kate said...

It's bloody quiet place for a couple of beers on Saturday afternoon.

 

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