Evolution, Not Revolution

Posted by Pete DeMola on 7. Des 2009

BEIJING, Dec 8 - Falling in line with the rapid maturation process that has recently taken hold in the capital city's nightlife industry (see White Rabbit and the Rickshaw 2.0), Club Obiwan is now throwing their hat into the rapidly-expanding ring, seeking to cast itself in a more sophisticated light.

Club Obiwan opened in Spring 2007 and has worked steadily since then in perfecting a recipe for satiating the fickle appetites of the city's young trendsetters, becoming one of Beijing's most well-rounded (and respected) nightlife destinations in the process.

Their recipe? Take an idyllic location on Xihai Lake, add a dedicated staff and DJ network skilled in the art of groove and throw slightly-raucous parties. Add film screenings, culinary offerings and occasional rooftop patio playtime sessions and let simmer for a few years.

Serves a mercurial city of 18 million. Add additional elements to taste and/or depending on the city's nightlife climate.

Nearly three years later, the Club Obiwan team will be now be joined by new partners Echo Sun and Ralph Ziegenhorn, two-thirds of the brains behind Q Bar, the Sanlitun South venue acclaimed for their innovative cocktails and über-cool ambiance.

Obiwan partner Ed Schmidt approached fellow German Ziegenhorn for collaborative ideas, resulting in this unification of forces.

"Ralph and Echo will bring their knowledge of how to run a bar and how to offer great quality value to customers," said David Mitchell, Club Obiwan's Communications and Music Director, on the nature of their cooperation.

He labeled the partnership as a "convenient marriage of ideas," while describing the new entity, which will now be known simply as Obiwan, as containing an injection of Q Bar while retaining the qualities that put Club Obiwan on the map.

According to Mitchell, Ziegenhorn and Sun will share their mixology expertise with Obiwan, allowing members of the Obiwan team to shift their primary focus to strengthening their event schedule, which in turn will hopefully allow the locale to reach it's full, previously-untapped potential.

In addition to revamping their culinary selections (expect a Mediterranean flair in addition to their current menu offerings), Obiwan also aims to host specialized events that can't be found anywhere else.

While their live parties and DJ sets will continue, new offerings include live music for the first time.

The team's ambitious sonic vision includes building up a pool of local musicians and giving them a platform for collaboration.

"We really want to be the place where you want to spin when you are a DJ, and where you choose to play if you are a musician," said Schmidt. "Maybe you won't meet the biggest crowd, but it'll be a crowd that will care the most about what you do as an artist."

Mitchell envisions Obiwan as the number one destination for the intelligent party crowd.

Among other new auditory concepts, said Mitchell, the venue would like to showcase local bands playing acoustic sets, perhaps including traditional instrumentation.

Mitchell, himself a musician who performs with Panjir, a local outfit who blend elements of Uyghur instrumentation with jazz and world music, sees himself as a curator and the venue as an incubator of new auditory ideas. "We want to be experimental but keep it accessible," he added.

The venue's three floors will also undergo both cosmetic and infrastructural face lifts to match its new foray into a one-stop shop for all of your entertainment and culinary needs.

Cosmetic renovations, including full scale refurbishment, will be an ongoing process. The new drink menu will be launched by late-January, while live music should take off sometime in February.

"It's an evolution, not a revolution," stressed Mitchell, adding that the entire project will take about a year. "We're really happy to finally be able to accomplish some of the ideas that we've had for Obiwan all along," added Schmidt.

Photo: Revelers get down at Club Obiwan's Glühwein Night on Sat, Nov 28. Courtesy of Ed Schmidt.

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