There will always be new clubs aiming to attract a slice of the nightlife crowd in Metro Manila. We have been to a few of them, and here’s the kind of entertainment they offer:
The Bar @1951
1951 Adriatico St. Malate, Manila
A few steps to the right of Cafe Havana off the Remedios Circle is The Bar @1951, which was put up by partners Eric Gonzales and Butch Aldana after the latter’s Penguin Cafe closed down.
On a recent weekend, singer-songwriter Noli Aurillo played classic tunes from movie soundtracks and rock legends that were amazing for their refreshing arrangements.
Aurillo’s genius, which we first noticed in the 1990s during his stint with Cocojam, gigs with Pepe Smith and Jun Lopito, and the recording of one track on a human rights benefit album was in full display that night. His version of “Over the Rainbow” from the musical fantasy film “The Wizard of Oz” melded classical, metal, new age, and progressive rock. In one particular passage, Aurillo made his acoustic guitar sound like a harp.
We had a blast listening to his interpretations of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Doors, Eric Clapton, and Led Zeppelin. By 1 a.m. the ice-cold beer tasted like sweet water from the fountain of youth.
Wil’s Events Place
30 Sgt. Esguerra Avenue, Quezon City
About a hundred meters to the right of the ABS-CBN studios is Wil’s Events Place, owned by Willie Revillame. From the outside it looked like a private resort, but once inside we really felt like we were in a beach club—with wooden floors and large plants swaying to the wind.
The patio had a relaxing ambience and that was where we had a few beers and seared tuna. Behind the courtyard is a dining room called Wil’s Steak Town, which also features live music. On the night we visited, Cesar Montano jammed a number of classic rock and pop songs with a pianist and percussion player.
Willie was likewise present, hopping from one table to another, making guests feel at home. “Ibibigay ko rin ito kay Meryll (Soriano, his daughter) balang araw,” he told us.
At past midnight, Revillame announced to his friends: “O, bayaran niyo ang bills niyo para naman kumita kami.”
Cesar butted in: “Kumanta na nga ako, magbabayad pa ’ko.”
Everyone laughed, but Willie was serious.
119 Roces Avenue, Quezon City
A stone’s throw away from the corner of Tomas Morato and Roces Avenues is Dragon Bistro—whose airy, open-near-the-roof design doesn’t need air conditioning. Drinks are very affordable—San Miguel’s Pale Pilsen, for instance, goes for P45 a bottle.
Dance music in all its variations is played by a DJ on center stage. No dance floor here, just tall tables and chairs for friends to stay glued to while grooving to the thumping electronic beat—which gets louder as the night runs deep.
The sofas near the bar put us at ease; this was the spot where we did not have to shout while talking to our companions. The night we visited, the DJ played selections of upbeat, classic rock and pop.
The place is still on dry-run mode, and co-owner Patrick Pua (eldest son of Serafin Pua of Birds of the Same Feather and Birdland fame) said it has a bigger, air-conditioned extension that will serve as the main club.
We hope that in the near future Dragon features live bands, too.
Scarlet Wine Lounge
Unit E, The Fort Entertainment Strip, 5th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
A flight of stairs led us to this classy lounge whose high-back velvet seats lent privacy to intimate conversation.
We went there four nights running to entertain a high-school buddy who was visiting from the United States. On the first two weeknights, the pre-programmed chill music served as a cool backdrop for small talk and Chilean red wine.
But on the weekend, the place transformed into a dance club where the DJ spinned ’70s and ’80s disco staples. The night we were there, ANC broadcaster Boyet Sison happily obliged our requests written on table napkins: Chic’s “Le Freak” and other tunes he himself used to play at Where Else?
G/F Oakridge Bldg., Paseo de Magallanes, Makati
This club is not really new—it opened at its current address beside Magallanes Village after its famous predecessor, Kublai’s Rock on Jupiter St., Bel-Air, folded up many years ago.
We didn’t get to sample the Mongolian grill stuff laid out on a buffet table, because the beer (P60 for Pale Pilsen) and classic rock and pop music were enough to recharge us after a hard day’s work.
Kublai’s owner, Poch Camahort, was there to make sure the sounds took everyone on an exhilarating ride: The Cars, Dire Straits, Police, Billy Idol, Rolling Stones, and so on. It was so engrossing especially with the high-school gang around.