Pick-up joint Roxy Vibe closed because it was only busy as an after-hours venue from 5am to 7am on Friday and Saturday nights, which the owner said didn’t provide enough revenue to cover expenses, never mind turn a profit. Although The Other Side, Roxy’s newest venture, also stays open until 7am, the management, through its public relations staff, adamantly claims that the club is not the new Vibe. So much so that the cover charge was originally set on a sliding scale that made coming late increasingly expensive — with the entrance fee starting at NT$400 and rising to NT$700 by 5am. That plan, however, has been scrapped, with the new cover reflecting a door policy that employs more honey than vinegar: NT$300 for women all the time, and no more than NT$500 for men.
The opening of The Other Side on July 31 was the final in a series of three club openings in just over a month following the closure of Vibe on June 20. Roxy Rocker debuted on June 19 and Roxy Roots followed on July 8.
It was a throw-down good time, although to echo a sentiment heard during the opening night and after: If the club owner didn’t want to associate the place with Vibe, why does it play the same music?
“On first look, The Other Side had some of the same characteristics of the old place,” said Marika McTague, a frequent clubgoer and part-time promoter: “[A] sub-basement club, small two-stall bathrooms, and mostly loud hip-hop and Top 40 mixed in with a bit of indie, rock and electro, though in a much newer location with great sound.”
With the green lasers speckling the maze of people into a soft anonymity, the venue does feel a bit like a time warp, despite its private booths and fancy decor.
Mike Tennant, who plays in BoPoMoFo (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ), High Tide and New Hong Kong Hair City agreed: “Between the hip-hop and band scene [it] gives you something in the middle,” but he also said the music had “a greatest hits” feel with classic “Vibe” songs such as Blur’s Girls & Boys.
“It’s still early in the game,” said Roxy promoter Alyson Schill, “and opinions about this club will be changing, I’m very confident about this.”
Schill says The Other Side will no longer play Vibe music. Weekends will be a mixture of rock, reggae, punk, alternative and indie, with theme nights throughout the week: Indie Wednesdays, Metal Thursdays and Punk Sundays.
Roxy Roots, which opened as a reggae bar, now plays blues and occasionally Latin beats as well. Also in the trendy Xinyi District (信義), it recently hosted blues band BoPoMoFo. Hopes for the Chinese and Western menu to gain a following have yet to come to fruition. Located next door to popular dance club Room 18, which already has a loyal clientele, the future of Roxy Roots still seems a bit touch-and-go as to whether it can attract a regular crowd to sustain its 24-hour bar and menu. Having a live band playing appears to be the greatest draw at this point.
Though Roxy Rocker, the first to open, often has more staff (eight to 10 people) than customers, it is slowly building a clientele. The ambient lighting and excellent music selection are only part of the appeal.
It’s also becoming a neighborhood pub of sorts for those looking for a slightly more upscale hangout in the Shida area, one in which you can select an album from the more than 10,000 Roxy says it has on offer and have the DJ play your own tunes.
An evening spent perusing the new editions of music magazines on offer (Revolver, Rolling Stone, Spin, Uncut, NME, Mojo) is a relaxing way to unwind, pint in hand. This is the bar dearest to owner Ling Wei’s (凌威) heart, he says, and the one his group is most counting on to have staying power.
Ling’s other ventures, Roxy Jr and Roxy 99 — which plays mainstream hip-hop and is often so packed that young clubbers spill out onto the street — are as popular as ever. But other Ling-run venues, such as Roxy Wave, have come and gone.
So, will the three new ones work? Only time will tell.
What: The Other Side
Address: B1, 20, Songshou Rd, Taipei City (台北市松壽路20號B1)
Telephone: (02) 2723-3257
Open: Wednesdays to Sundays from 9pm to 7am
Admission: Women always pay NT$300, except Wednesdays, when they get in free. Men pay NT$400 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and Fridays and Saturdays before 1am. After 1am on weekends men pay NT$500
What: Roxy Rocker
Address: B1, 177, Heping E Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市和平東路一段177號B1)
Telephone: (02) 2351-8177
Open: 9pm to 4am
What: Roxy Roots
Address: 90 Songren Rd, Taipei City (台北市松仁路90號)
Telephone: (02) 2725-3932
Open: 24 hours a day
Details: 24-hour Western menu. Chinese menu available from 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm
On the Net: www.roxy.com.tw
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