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.


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

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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 9:34 pm, July 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous 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 10:55 am, July 12, 2006, Blogger Kate Borrell said...

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


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