Blinding incidents in Hong Kong bars have probably increased significantly in recent times. Such has been the exponential rise in the popularity of darts. No longer cast to the darkest, dankest corner of a pub to rot away in cobweb-ridden wooden cabinets, darts are now common place in bars across the city. Seizing upon this, the Japanese phenomenon i Darts has added to its hundreds of darts-dedicated bars and expanded beyond its homeland for the first time by opening in Tsim Sha Tsui’s vertical drinking centre, Katherine House.
On exiting the elevators, darts bombard you from every direction. To the left of the dim, open space, a massive, illuminated purple, red, and white bulls-eye hangs above the lustrous bar. Directly in front, there’s a cabinet filled with darts memorabilia, and beyond, a series of ten buzzing, chiming, flashing machines called Darts Live 2, the latest Sega-designed, state-of-the-art electronic darts gizmos, stretching across the ebony and charcoal bar. The i-stage, an elevated, spot-lit machine, takes centre stage, with a long couch providing a comfortable stadium-like viewing spot.
Lots of darts in a room might sound like a rather timid affair, but i Darts Club is surprisingly lively. The bar has adopted the slogan “Fun and communication”, promoting a friendly atmosphere, best manifested at the regular, raucous darts parties where the R&B, J-Rock, and 15-minute versions of Eye of the Tiger are overshadowed by the deafening collision of inflatable stick balloons. The machines also promote a social-networking aspect, linking the more than 500 current Hong Kong members with the 400,000 Japanese i Darts faithful. Indeed, you can even play against someone in Nippon in real time, watching their grimacing face as they throw via each machine’s reverse angle dart-cam. At $5 a game, it’s a reasonably cheap form of entertainment.
With all this activity, you might almost forget this is actually a bar. Although the drinks aren’t the focus, the dart-related beverages are a nice touch: try the hazardous Three in the Black (whisky, rum, black vodka, beer, and OJ), and the decidedly fruitier Ton 80 (cassis, strawberry, lemon; $68). There’s only one beer in this Asahi-sponsored bar, Asahi ($42), which might help wash down the deep-friend Japanese goodness on offer.
Of course, if you’re not interested in darts, or you have an overwhelming, paralysing fear of sharp objects, it might not be your thing. But if you want to get on board with one of the bar scene’s fastest growing phenomenons, get yourself an i Darts membership (required if you want to play online) and throw hazardous objects at a colourful board. There’s no better place to do it. That is, until i Darts new Causeway Bay location arrives in November.
2/F, Katherine House, 53-55 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, www.dartslive.hk, 2827 7701.
|Venue name:||i Darts Club|