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May 2003. VOL.3 ISSUE 5
Out in Style: The Lounge Scene Takes Taiwan By Storm
By Douglas Habecker
many people, the mention of a lounge bar or lounge music still conjures
up faded images of old nightclubs, complete with velvet-covered
sofas, Burt Bacharach records, lots of neon, strong martinis, beehive
hairdos, big-finned Cadillacs, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the
rest of the Brat Pack.
forward about four decades, and--surprise!---lounge is back.
In cosmopolitan cities around the world, from Paris to Bangkok,
a whole new generation is wholeheartedly embracing a modern
lounge culture that mixes elements of the old and new to create
those essential end products of fun and relaxation.
has been no exception, as the lounge scene shows all the signs
of being the latest nightlife fad, sweeping from Taipei south
to cities like Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung. For now, the
trend shows no signs of abating, as a steady stream of new
lounges continue to oblige the growing numbers of residents
who¡¦ve discovered the swank, laid-back appeal of these cool,
lounge revival came into full swing around five years ago, starting
in cities like Paris and New York. Jaded by massive, glitzy discos,
and the follow-on techno/rave culture, people began to crave something
more relaxing, more discreet and less frantic: Classy places where
they could dress up, relax, socialize and enjoy good music.
bars today display considerable variety, but despite the different
sizes, shapes and decors, there are certain immediately-recognizable
ingredients. Dark, swanky, contemporary interiors, almost-hidden
lights, comfortable velvet and leather-covered sofas, uniformed
waiters, high-end drinks, and the down-tempo, ambient sounds of
modern-day lounge music and other overlapping genres, such as chill-out.
in the industry say that part of running a classier lounge
bar is only offering top-rate spirits, cocktails and other
alcoholic beverages: Single-malt Scotch whiskies, fine wines,
brandies, spirits, champagne and cocktails.
also represents a significant driving force behind the modern
lounge scene. Lounge music from the last generation was spearheaded
by the sounds of greats like Burt Bacharach and the Tijuana
Brass. Today¡¦s lounge music is rooted in the work of early
ambient music pioneers--Jean Michel-Jarre, Tangerine Dream,
and, more recently, Enya--whose slower, moody music inspired
visual images, contemplation and, with the right accompanying
genre grew into a variety of related forms known by different names,
including New Age, world ambient, contemporary instrumental, ambient
techno, trance, chill-out and, of course, lounge.
Taiwan, the lounge bar scene began to take off about 18 months ago.
Junior Lin, managing director of Taipei¡¦s Plush, has opened several
lounges in the capital and elsewhere, including Taichung¡¦s new
T.C. Champagne Lounge, and Tainan¡¦s Alive, due to open in June.
He says the early influence of pioneer establishments in Taipei
like Champagne, and the ongoing popularity of places like Naomi,
reflect shifting tastes among a fashionable, largely white-collar
crowd between the ages of about 22 and 40.
lounge last? Most establishment owners agree that the current popularity
of lounge bars is a fad that will eventually pass. But given the
need for quiet, relaxing places, it seems clear that the lounge
scene will remain strong, and evolve to match new tastes as it goes
in the South
south Taiwan, no small number of nightspots have adopted aspects
of lounge. Some of these places may leave purists unsatisfied,
but all of those mentioned here are attractive, fun establishments.
Kaohsiung's Mouton 1973 (251, TzChiang 3rd Rd., (07) 215-8855)
is a coffeeshop during the day, but according to employees,
it becomes a lounge in the evening. In the same neighborhood
there¡¦s Keep Walk¡¦ in Lounge (B1, 323, ShinTian Rd., (07)
241-6056), which opens at midday on weekends and holidays. In
Tainan City, one place that has fully embraced the lounge phenomenon
is Rough Mini-Lounge (72, JungYi Rd., Sec. 3, (06) 225-1781),
found in an old, easy-to-miss, single-story building. Espace
(676, JianPing Rd., (06) 299-9555) is proving popular, while
Bohemia Music Lounge Bar (271, JianKang Rd., Sec. 2, (06) 291-8512)
claims to be the oldest lounge in Tainan