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Back to the Champagne Bar...

With much of Hong Kong slowly opening up, there’s something special about the Champagne Bar at the Grand Hyatt having recently reopened its doors after almost three years of either being closed or travelling at half speed.

Though still very early days, ‘live’ music is back, and that’s half the battle won.

Is it perfect? Nothing is. Could things be thought through and programmed better? Definitely.

Having a revolving roller deck of different musicians performing at the Champagne Bar from Thursday to Saturday is something interesting enough.

This could be a very good showcase for dropping in new talent.

However, having these performers start the first of three sets at 6.30pm and this triple decker sandwich ending at 10pm is kinda daft.

Isn’t this the time when the after-dinner crowd and those with ka-ching are looking for someplace centrally located where they can chill out and hear someone in Hong Kong the calibre of Jennifer Palor perform in a ‘live’ setting?

This is what I did last Saturday night at around 9pm without even knowing Jennifer would be there.

It’s always good to see Jennifer, someone with whom I have worked for a number of years.

On this particular night a few minutes after 10pm- and kinda like Cinderella- she was gone and one was back at some wired for sound venue that could have been anywhere.

My bill- and just for myself that night: HK$1991.

It’s not the money, but it is- and also feeling somewhat short-changed.

Knowing that there was no ‘live’ music going on until at least midnight, friends who were going to join me, made a detour and either went somewhere else or got into their pyjamas, ordered from McDonald’s and watched Netflix. Others did the form for the races the next day.

Once the favourite meeting place in Hong Kong for many of the city’s “movers and shakers” from the music and film industries and some from the horse racing fraternity, the Champagne Bar is something of an institution.

Over the years, it has also welcomed hotel guests including former President Clinton, Norah Jones and Keanu Reeves who have dropped by and mingled with those at the venue.

The Champagne Bar is an old friend. Always has been, always will be.

Though fully understanding that Hong Kong nightlife is a business like any other business and needing to take baby steps to first see the lay of the land in the new abnormal, for someone still very much connected with music, seeing this old friend lose its footing and make, what I see as elementary music marketing mistakes is tough to take.

Hey, I have actually been known to be wrong.

Having said this, the Champagne Bar is still better than a certain venue in Happy Valley once known for its ‘live’ music and adrenaline rush of fun times that’s these days reduced to nothing much and serving Spicy Nachos due to not having the “right” licence.

Something like that...

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