Feb 11, 2008

[Pink Scene] Club Mafia Manila (First Look)

NOTE: Unfortunately, Club Mafia Manila is no longer in business as of this time.

February 8 marked the opening of Club Mafia Manila, Malate's newest queer dance bar where the Rainbow Project used to be right next to Bed. My friends and I were able to get in as guests for the opening night since we're friends with one of the people behind the new club and now it turns out we're full-fledged VIP's, haha. It just goes to show that it pays to be friendly when going out clubbing, and not necessarily just from a dating perspective.

I figured it might be a good idea to post a formal review of the new club for all those curious as to what lies beyond the double doors. Now take note this is a first look, so I'm sure things will change over time and thus there will be a need to post another review in the future.

When it comes to clubs, there are certain things that I tend to factor in my head when it comes to me deciding where I want to go. While there aren't really that many choices out there in Pseudo-Christian Manila, still there are choices and Club Mafia is now positioning itself to join the decision ranks. For those curious, I'm more of a Bed kind of guy above all others.

Lights, Sounds and All That Jazz - I have to admit that Club Mafia really has this going for them. The place has some of the best lights and sounds set-ups that I've seen ever! I loved the whole thing so much, I just had to attempt to snap a few shots with my mobile phone camera (thus the shaky, blurry pictures above) You can imagine how much all this cost and I'm sure it was more than worth it. The main dance floor is clearly the focus with lights abound and specialized fog machines doing a lot more than just spewing out smoke that has to rise from the floor. Here they either jet up like smoke geysers or ooze down from vents coming from the second floor. My favorites were the green lasers that created colorful patterns all over the building and on all the people present which "accessorized everyone" as a friend of mine remarked at the time.

The whole place as the look and feel of a stylized warehouse complete with the whole no ceiling look and thus the place extends way, way up. The venue is a smoking club but the design doesn't leave you gasping for air, which is pretty cool. Overall, the focus seems to be the dance floor, which is an interesting bit. There are hardly any stages / platforms like what Bed has set up so the place is pretty level and reminds you that it's all about the dancing. I just wish people danced more during the opening night.

Drinks and the Serving Thereof - I wasn't overly impressed with the drinks that first night since I was looking for the kinds that come in oversize glasses but not costing too much. I had a small mojito which set me back P165 and tasted far too sweet and not alcoholic enough, haha. Others had rum cokes that could have used more rum. So far, best drink of the night was the strawberry margarita, which did taste really yummy. There aren't any amazing signature drinks just yet and perhaps they'll develop some over time, who knows? Oh, and beer is P80 a bottle, which isn't bad compared to the P100 most other clubs charge.

The waiters were garbed in what has somewhat become the standard black tank top. It's fun that they walk around with small drinks list cards around their necks like school IDs so in order to study the drinks, you need to pull a waiter pretty close. They were generally polite but rather slow for the opening weekend in terms of capturing orders, which is somewhat to be expected for the first night. The bar crew was even slower and I suppose they'll get better in time. There are two bars, in case you're curious, which has somewhat become the norm these days.

Music - Probably one of the most important aspects of any club boils down to the music and so far I have to admit it's not quite to my liking. This may just be a question of taste since I'm ultimately a vocals / anthems kind of guy since I enjoy singing and dancing along so I can continue to make a bigger fool of myself. For the opening nights, the music at Club Mafia felt a bit too heterosexual-European for my tastes with a lot of moments when you're not precisely sure how you're supposed to dance to the song without some level of illicit pharmaceuticals running through your system. Sorry Sparky, I don't do that.

I have to admit I was kind of disappointed since our friend who invited us over knows the kinds of songs that we liked and that just wasn't what we were hearing. Maybe they're still looking for a better DJ or perhaps they're just trying to find their place or create their own sound. I just suppose it's not my sound just yet.

Crowd - The people who arrived for the opening night could be classified as the slightly older set, which doesn't mean grandfathers but more refers to the lack of too many underage folks milling around. That may just be because it was the opening weekend and people weren't sure yet what Mafia was all about or perhaps because they tend to mill around Bed in the hopes of getting picked up.

Given the whole "mafia" name, a lot of people interpreted that as a theme requirement and arrived in a mix of three-piece outfits. Vests, suspenders and fedoras were everywhere, which was actually kind of fun. I'm not quite sure what makes the "mafia" in Club Mafia just yet, but then it's like trying to find beds at Bed, so I suppose it all evens out in the end.

I suppose you could describe the crowd to be something like Government, although without as many costume folks milling around. You know what I mean - the hip-hop queers in ghetto-camouflage and such.

The Final Word - It's still too early to make an accurate call on Club Mafia Manila for now, but then my main areas of concern remain to be Drinks and above all else, Music. The music of a club is pretty much its heart and soul and Mafia definitely needs to find it's sound and remember to play more contemporary tracks. Fix that and Mafia will definitely become a contender in a market pretty much divided between Bed and Government alone, for the most part.

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