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Time for some Lips service, darling?

Nothing should surprise anyone anymore about the lengths many in Hong Kong go to in order to be seen and heard as saviours of the city and attract attention by coming up with the weird and wacky and almost embarrassingly childlike things.

All that’s needed is Willy Wonka as the ringmaster.

We have survived chubby hearts, giant egg shaped objects in different colours, vouchers and coupons that have created a market where much has been cheapened and an Oliver Twisted generation has sprung up.

Ironically, the end result is benefiting Shenzhen more than Hong Kong by making it a more cost effective tourist attraction than Hong Kong for day trippers.

There was something called “night vibes” that flickered for a while before the lights went out. And now, there is Lips.  

The low-key opening of Lips, the new and kinda theatrical nitery at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, had the far better working name of “the music room”. It sounded more real. Maybe it will…evolve.


Though yet to experience Lips, we’ve been made to understand that it’s kinda like an entertainment hub with ‘live’ music, magicians, possible clowns- and Hong Kong is full of them- and apparently an hour for an open mic session.

The latter promises to be chaotic fun.

However, in a city where “function” entertainers past their prime make hay while the sun shines and venues are in the hands of those who don’t know music marketing nor care to understand it, odds and sods are allowed to continue- along with not understanding customer wants and needs.

It’s something that permeates almost throughout the service industry in Hong Kong because music and entertainment is not a priority,  and their importance in shaping a product has somehow left the building with Elvis.

To some I know, including myself, the concept wrapped around Lips sounds like one of those British variety shows or, if American, The Ed Sullivan Show.

As a brand, it sounds like a peep show.

Hopefully, a real Lippy experience is better than this grim story, and not someplace else where people go to the same well and dredge up the usual suspects and have them decide the entertainment for the evening- like karaoke versions of “Shallow”, “Imagine”, “Flowers”…and “Funky Town”.

Does this mean that these people who have nothing to do with venues know the tastes and needs of the customer better- the customer who pays the bills and would appreciate a little respect and courtesy?

Do these people in charge of music know the terrific unknown artists- young artists- in Norway, Denmark, Finland etc who would jump at the opportunity during these post pandemic times to travel and perform in Hong Kong and neighbouring cities?

Do they know about all those tribute shows in Australia featuring everything from the music of Sinatra to the Carpenters and ABBA- like BABBA from Melbourne who we brought to a Happy Wednesday night a couple of years ago when Hong Kong was actually a happy city?  

This is where the Hong Kong government must understand the importance of relaxing work visas for artists to perform in Hong Kong and have their music give this city a pulse.

As for Lips, frankly, we can’t get past the logo and the kinda purple and blue backdrop that brings to mind David Lynch’s dark and creepy “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks”. 

Whereas the hotel’s Champagne Bar trudges along with a skeleton crew, its kitchen closes at 10.30pm.

Last Friday, they lost one customer wanting fifty milligrams of caviar and where, for a substitute, it took over an hour for a plate of fries from Room Service.

There’s nothing of the good vibes that once made the venue the most popular meeting place in Hong Kong for the city’s movers and shakers.

It’s there like a testament to when time stood still and turned into a fruit fly on a mothball. 

Saying that the Champagne Bar today doesn’t attract many customers is like saying one with a really huge head purposely visits a village of headhunters. 

If sitting alone at the bar, it’s so darn boring waiting for those fries that you long to have Chuckie come and sit next to you.

Those days of going there and knowing one would meet everyone and more, and then going upstairs to JJ’s with the music room where Norah Jones once performed, today, it’s about paying Lip service.

Hong Kong is what it is- the question is what exactly it is or could be?

No amount of networking and nut working has helped and even the sight of a princely sheikh riding into town on a eight humped camel would barely raise an eyebrow.

At least to give Hong Kong a backdrop from which a new nightlife can be given a pulse, this might be the time how when in advertising, the chairman for DDB Keith Reinhard reminded us young creatives to Know Your Customer. 

Somewhere along the way, this has been allowed to go walkies because in these days of “influencers” and “KOLs”, everyone is an expert on everything. 

This has created a crowded and chaotic marketplace where everyone knows everything- and this means looking after paying customers.

In the music industry, we called this a job named A&R and where it was about experience and intuitively knowing about providing different strokes for different folks. 

Maybe we really don’t know those new folks anymore- these new customers? 

We might know that 40-55 age group, but what about everyone else? 

Is there an answer or are we smack, dab in the middle of chump change and guesswork?

At least until we see where the world is heading, perhaps small and exclusive upmarket clubs should consider a new “name” international artist every month?

Of course, scheduling and costs is everything, but often there’s a need to finance the future. 

For those small exclusive clubs that might do better by having international artists, consider the following names- even once every six months:






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