An old favorite, The Glamour Bar

HKK Building - The Bund
NKK Building - The Bund

The Glamour Bar is one of those places that make you stravel to old Shanghai just by going there. A bit like the now gone Face Bar, there is something in this place that is uniquely Shanghai. Australian Michelle Garnaut has put her soul and attention to details in creating an anchor of Shanghai. M on the Bund restaurant opened in 1999, the first Glamour Bar opened in 2004 on the 7th floor and the current larger Glamour Bar opened in mid 2006. Since I arrived in Shanghai, I saw many fancy bars open, have their year or two of glory and loose most of their followers or simply close. Glamour Bar crowd has been thicker than today but the Great Lady of the Bund has even more charm with less people in it. One finally get some space on Saturday night to enjoy this incredible building.

To start with, the bar and restaurants are located in the NKK building, one of the Buns anchor at #5. At the corner of the old Guandong lu and the actual Bund, it is a great looking building built in 1921 for a Japanese shipping line. It is one of the symbols the trade power in old Shanghai. The entrance to the top floors is not through the facade anymore, but through a side door instead. Construction of this entrance is not the best design with marble everywhere, much like many Chinese renovation… but it still looks OK. Get through the small lifts (with the door always closing on people) to reach the refined environment of the 6th floor. Several venues have been created in grand buildings renovated along the Bund, but Glamour Bar is for me the best (with Bund 18). With smart and non obstructive design, they managed to bring modern equipment and comfort while keeping the old atmosphere.

Glamour Bar
Glamour Bar

The best of the bar is that it has two very different lives with two very different set of visitors. The most well known is probably the evening version of The Glamour Bar. Gyn & Tonic, Wine, various other alcohol mix together with a lounge kind of music. The dark lights create small corner where conversation can happen without having to scream to the other. I love the furniture that are all authentic of copies of Old Shanghai pieces.  Glasses are also of a special kind, modern version of the old crystal red glasses. Later in the evening, the bar transforms into a lounge.  This is one of those places, where you meet incredible people, couples are made or broken, and friends reunite. The DJ’s spin music like in all lounges in the world… but the decor still is fascinating, giving to the place an incomparable charm.

Shanghai International Literary Festival
Shanghai International Literary Festival

The second life of The Glamour Bar is as a cultural venue. Thanks to the owner fascination with literature and culture, Sunday afternoons are devoted to cultural talks. Most interesting book presentation and conferences are held there, including the now famous Shanghai Literary Festival taking place now every year, the largest English Speaking Literary Festival in Asia. It no surprise that many of these books are about old Shanghai and the atmosphere during these events is timeless. The bells at the neighboring customs house can be heard every hour playing Big Ben’s music. We could be in 1929 just like in 2009.

I had not written for a while on this blog. Just going to Glamour Bar again gave me the inspiration for many more posts to come.

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