Last night I stopped by the soft opening of Aura, a new club located on the sixth floor of M-88 at 2-8 Wellington Street in Central.
M-88 is an older building that was recently renovated and has sought to reinvent itself as an entertainment destination. The strategy behind re-branding the building ‘M-88′ is to make it more hip and youthful. (Sometimes the name game can backfire, for example, there was a building in Hong Kong that christened itself ‘Dot Com House’ just before the market crashed!)
M-88 is located around the corner from Lan Kwai Fong – a collection of buildings teeming with restaurants and bars. Lan Kwai Fong was once a backwater that was transformed into Hong Kong’s premier nightlife area. Perhaps M-88 aims to undergo a similar change.
The first occupant of M-88 to open was Racks MDB, the uber-popular billiards club on the seventh floor. Racks was followed by Sushi Kuu, a Japanese restaurant on the first floor. Aura, a new club located on the sixth floor is the third tenant to open. The Opera Gallery on G2 is another newcomer. The second, third and fifth floors of the building have been rented by the people behind Hei Hei Club, a popular spot originally located across the street. Their space in M-88 features two connected floors, as well as a large, several thousand square-foot outdoor balcony. (Note that many buildings in Hong Kong do not have a fourth, fourteenth, or twenty-fourth etc. floor due to superstition. The reason is that the sound of the number four in Cantonese is similar to the word for death. It’s thought of as unlucky and bad for business to be located on the fourth floor. This is akin to buildings in the U.S. not having a thirteenth floor.)
With its numerous nightlife offerings, expect M-88 to really be buzzing once the final tenant, the new Hei Hei club, opens.
Aura should officially open next week. Monday night I stopped by to have a quick look at the space. To get to the club, take the outdoor elevator on Wellington Street up to the sixth floor. As the doors open, you are greeted by a reception area. Aura is a private membership club.
Entering the club, there’s a good-sized dance floor and a long bar. To your left are a bank of booths with seating. Once you walk further in towards the bar, there’s a deep section on the right filled with table seating and a huge bench-seat area in the back corner that reminded me of the largest karaoke rooms I’ve been in.
I liked the vibe. The place is dark, which is a point that most clubs miss out on. People dance more and party harder when a club is dark. The darkness takes you out of your daily life and helps create a different sense of reality. I’ve noticed that most new clubs are too bright, especially with their over-reliance on video screens for atmosphere. If attention isn’t paid, video screens make a club way too bright and kill the mood, rather than enhance it. The right video can be cool, but at its worst, it’s like light pollution.
Aura’s dance floor and long bar are great for mingling and walk-ins, while the ample seating area will satisfy the bottle buying crowds – a great balance.
Once it officially opens, look for this place to be a popular destination with local crowds.
Aura Club, 6/F, M-88, 2-8 Wellington Street (near the corner of Wyndham St.,) Central