East meets West in Suzie Wong

East meets West in Suzie Wong

The World of Suzie Wong (1960), which was the first mainstream Hollywood film to have an all-Asian cast, tells the story of an aspiring American artist who relocates to Hong Kong and falls in love with Suzie Wong, a prostitute with a "heart of gold".

That soul-searching cross-cultural romance, the true love beyond social rules and the images of Hong Kong brilliantly and sensuously conveyed half a century ago makes the movie a timeless classic for many people. The name Suzie Wong conjures up images of a slim, exotic Asian woman with almond eyes, dressed in a cheongsam with a thigh-high slit that teases with a now-you-see-the-skin-and-now-you-don't allure.

In Beijing, The World of Suzie Wong is better known as a nightclub. Named after the classic film character, the club is a popular hotspot for dancing the night away to the venue's house music. The club's chic decor and friendly feel gives it a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

The World of Suzie Wong opened in 2002 and was the first venue in Beijing to blend Chinese classical decorations with Western clubbing style, says David Han, 39, general manager of the club. Some say a visit to The World of Suzie Wong is like stepping back to Hong Kong of the past.

"The crowd here is very exciting. The atmosphere is definitely better than most average neighborhood bars," says a drinker from Germany in the lounge.

The club has a wide selection of fine wines, which are fairly priced for club members. But the venue is better known for its signature cocktails, especially Suzie's Mojito and Long Island Iced Tea.

Apart from the array of wines and cocktails, authentic Chinese snacks are also on offer. Some of the highlights include Suzie's Wontons and Yangzhou Style Fried Rice.

The TOUCH hall on the first floor is The World of Suzie Wong's venue for big parties. Upstairs is the terrace and VIP rooms for high rollers. During the summer, the rooftop seating offers a quiet escape from the partying crowd.

"I often come here for a drink, nearly every time I come to Beijing. You have a quiet and chilled place for a chat, and also a noisy place for a deafening dance," says a Russian visitor.

Han says that Suzie Wong's target clientele are white-collar workers aged over 30 and expatriates.

Having worked at the club for nine years, starting as a bartender and rising to general manager, Han says the growth of the club can be attributed to its international patrons and culture of promoting "East meets West".

"We are trying to make Suzie Wong a place of belonging, a second home in Beijing," he says.

Suzie Wong's themed parties distinguish it from its Beijing counterparts.

Its signature yearly Cheongsam party "Ye Shanghai", meaning "nightlife in Shanghai", transports you to the days of old Shanghai in the 1920s. The event started 10 years ago and has become a popular party experience.

The club's monthly themed parties such as "Sexy Lips-To kiss or to be kissed" never fail to attract crowds of well-dressed men and women.

IF YOU GO

Opens daily 8 pm-late. The World of Suzie Wong, 1A Nongzhanguan Lu (West Gate of Chaoyang Park), Chaoyang district, Beijing. Reservations: 010-6500-3377.

 

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