There’s more to Hong Kong’s club scene than just Central. Anderson Muth visits the outer islands and New Territories to discover the city’s more underground night spots
Where to go for quality music? Central and SoHo are the obvious mainstays of HK’s club scene, while the more adventurous and discerning clubber might venture to Kwun Tong or Shek Tong Tsui if they’re sufficiently in the know. Yet Hong Kong boasts a number of venues more on the fringe, both in geographical location and mindset, for those willing to move beyond the familiar.
Mavericks, the Pui O beach bar slash restaurant may be well regarded for both its cuisine and idyllic location, but founder and creative director Jay FC has been steadily increasing the emphasis on music ever since the venue’s opening in April last year. “Honestly, I’ve been surprised how well it’s gone down,” he admits. Expect house, funk, soul, Latin, disco, reggae and plenty more lesser heard genres. The DJs and selections are guaranteed to be ‘really eclectic’, says Jay, ‘that’s why it’s fun for the people who come and play’, as well as for those grabbing dinner or relaxing over a few beachside drinks. Mavericks, which now boasts top-shelf local DJs almost every Saturday and Sunday, also features a local-brands-only shop, skateboard ramp and surfboard rentals. The differing elements might seem a disconnected mishmash, but it all makes sense once you grasp Jay FC’s motivation. The venue, he explains, is ‘basically like everything I ever wanted as a kid… [It’s] not just about food, we’re trying to do everything well, with integrity’.
Switching islands – from Lantau to Lamma – nestled in the hills above Yung Shue Wan village (a simple 25 minute ferry from Central) is a well-hidden, but long established independent venue. Run by partners Jim Brockman and Tamara Norris, Open Space has been an alternative music destination for six years already. Explaining their ethos, Brockman emphasises the prevalence of nature, the prioritisation of passion over profit and the diversity of events, since Open Space is ‘supposed to be a community space, not just music’. In addition to a range of concerts, bands and DJs, they also host craft markets, kids’ art classes, art jams and therapy sessions, plus woodworking workshops beginning this summer. That said, as a DJ himself, Brockman’s eyes gleam when he reveals they ‘are able to pump out music without anyone being annoyed… which means you can carry on until dawn’. Tapping into the slower pace of the Lamma lifestyle, Open Space depends on the local community’s enthusiasm to survive, while also providing an escape from the overly urban. With a decade-spanning 90s party planned for September, Brockman recommends bringing a sense of adventure, along with a torch.
Heading inland to the New Territories, Acadana is a brand-new venture aiming to provide an outlet for creativity of all types. With the paint still drying and construction just finished amid Fo Tan’s sea of underused warehouses, manager Heman Cheung strongly perceives the need for a legitimate community space. “[If] I love a band… It’s not easy to find other music lovers [who are] sharing similar values,” he points out. That reality has led, step by step, to produce Acadana, a portmanteau taking its name from a cappella and sidana – Cantonese slang for ‘whatever’. The name has its origins in a Facebook group for sharing creative ideas that Cheung started several years previous. The venue – open again following a spring beta test and soft opening in July – will be a ‘community for local alternative music lovers’. An official launch party is to be announced shortly. Cheung makes it clear that language will not be a barrier since, “It would be a shame if a local band is making [music] and people don’t know because it’s in Chinese.”
With Fo Tan’s relatively open space, recent influx of street culture and proximity to Baptist University, the aim is to provide a peaceful private club that’s focused on promoting funky music to the 90s generation, but which is open to all. Here, there’s no desire to copy the mainstream club model prevalent in Central. There’s enough of that already Cheung tells us. Instead, this is a place for the community ‘to gather, [to] share their interests and their obsessions’.
MavericksPui O beach,South Lantau Rd, Lantau, 5662 8552; fb.com/maverickshk.
Open Space2 Tai Ling Village,Yung Shue Wan, Lamma; bit.ly/hkopenspace.
Acadana Room 33, 17/F, Block B, Wah Lok Industrial Ctr, 41 Shan Mei St, Fo Tan.