Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Top Five STUPID names for bars

In the past, I've tried on this blog to generate some sensible names/concepts for new bars (and I claim at least a partial credit for Fubar!); but, since I find myself mired in seasonal ill-will, I have decided to devote this week's little list to the crappiest names for bars I've come across in Beijing.  There's quite a bit of competition.

The Top Five STUPID names for bars in Beijing

5)  Minty
This was one of the first bars to open "off Nanluoguxiang", but... well, 'open' is perhaps the wrong term.  It never was 'open' any time I walked past. (You've really got to make a bit of an effort to open during the daytime, chaps, if you want to get yourself noticed.  In fact, if you're going for that typical Chinese more-a-coffee-shop-than-a-bar kind of concept, that's probably when you're going to do most of your business.  If you can't even get your act together enough to open consistently by the late afternoon or early evening - even in the summer! - then... people are going to assume you're not serious about doing business, and start ignoring you.  I fear this may be what happened to the wretched Minty; I don't think it's there any more... but I could be wrong, because I stopped even looking out for it when I walked past.)  Ah, it's the old Chinese 'English name' vice of thinking - erroneously - that adjectives somehow make cool names.  They don't, not in English; not for people, not for bars, not for anything.  Pick a noun, for Christ's sake!  And if you have to pick an adjective, don't go for one whose main associations are with breath-freshener: it sends out the wrong kind of signals.

4)  Touch 9 Public House
This soulless, chronically overlit, chrome-and-formica diner-style monstrosity in Wudaokou encapsulates why no self-respecting drinker should ever go to Korea.  This, I am assured, is an authentic little piece of Seoul transplanted into our Korean-rich student district.  The food, drink, and service are all horrible, and it's upstairs in a mall (well, actually, upstairs in an office building, and completely unsignposted!); but the name is just hilarious.  Even without calling itself a 'public house': that's just icing and Smarties on top of an already over-rich cake.

3)  La Fite Exotic English Bar
Or it might be 'English Exotic'.  I've never been in [well, I have now].  I don't think anyone ever has.  This has to be this year's most mysteriously pointless new opening; one of those that you suspect must be just some sort of mafia front operation, because it appears to have no interest at all in actually trying to do any business.  I'm not sure which is funnier: supposing that 'La Fite' might be an appropriate name for an "English bar", or thinking that there's anything at all exotic about the English.  Two delirious incongruities for the price of one!

2)  Si...if
This is one of the first "off Nanluoguxiang" bars to become moderately successful.  Heck, in recent months there's even been evidence to suggest that it's becoming trendy.  (Well, it's been a sort of a clubhouse for rock'n'roll devotees en route to or from MAO Live House just down the road for some time, but now it appears to be becoming the kind of place that even people of affluence and taste might consider visiting.  I hear even Beijing Boyce looked in there a few weeks back.)  I am surprised that it's still going.  I tried it a couple of times with Crazy Chris shortly after it first opened - nearly three years ago.  The wildly naff decor - a perspex floor, lots of twinkly lights - is slightly suggestive of a cheap Star Wars set.  And the whole place stinks of mildew and unaired bed linen (it's one of those places where the staff sleep on sofas in the basement).  Quite cheap drinks, but ZERO charm.  And even adjectives are not daft enough for these guys; no, they have to choose a conditional conjunction.  And it's not enough to do that once.  If they'd settled for that, it might have had a certain resonance about it, a certain mystery (we might even have thought they were perhaps referencing Lindsay Anderson's classic school satire If....).  But oh no, they have to double it up, in two different languages.  And then, they omit to get people in the listings magazines to reprint the string of full stops between the two words (as it's written on the banner outside), so that the name as commonly advertised appears to be the unpronounceable gibberish word Siif.  It might perhaps have evolved into a decent bar in the two-and-a-half years since I last tried it; but I seriously doubt that, since it was starting from so far below zero.  And the name is one of the most terminally AWFUL I've ever come across.

1)  Wiggly Jiggly's
But even the ludicrous Siif can't quite take the top spot.  Although Wiggly's is kind of cheating.... because it's not just an absurd name for a bar but a Carry-On style sexual innuendo (entirely inadvertent, I'm quite sure!) as well.  And it's only one of the names - or one part of the name - of this horrific bar.  They've still left up one or two of the signs bearing their 'old name', the very-nearly-as-bad Login Pub (which was threatening to make this a 'Top Six' list); while their Wiggly's rebranding appears to be confined to a discreet carved wooden sign above the door.  Choose a huge f***ing wall screen to try and look like a sports bar, which you're not; choose green-and-white checked tablecloths on the tables to make yourself look like a mom-and-pop diner restaurant, which you're not; choose surlier-than-average staff and higher-than-average prices for the area; choose a really, really stupid name; then choose an even more stupid name, but don't completely remove the original name; choose to FAIL.


Ruby said...

Well according to the sign it's Pizza La Fete British Exotic Bar. I should know, it's on my street ... but I have never been in either! I have been tempted on many occasions walking past on the way home to "borrow" the fake German Shepherd sitting outside though ;)

Froog said...

'Pizza' is new, I think. And I'm sure it used to be 'La Fite' rather than 'La Fete'. Are they taking the Jiggly Wiggly's approach of starting out with a really stupid name and then making it STUPIDER?

And have we hit some sort of Pizza Event Horizon in Beijing???