Icon of Hong Kong nightlife Carnegie’s to close, another victim of hangover from Occupy protests and rent rises

They used to say you hadn’t been to Hong Kong unless you’d been to Carnegie’s - famed for its ladies’ nights and bar-top dancing - but after 23 years the nightspot is closing, hit by rent rise and hangover from Occupy protests

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 2:15pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 1:16am

Wan Chai bar Carnegie’s – famed for its bar-top dancing and hedonistic ladies’ nights – has announced it will be closing at the end of the month after almost a quarter-century of business.

Carnegies’ general manager, Duncan Smith, told SCMP.com that the venue had been hit with a 20 per cent rent increase that it could not afford.

“We’ve had a few rent increases over the years, but this is the first time we’ve been hit with such a big one,”says Smith, who has been general manager for three years.

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“Business really dropped off after the [2014] ‘umbrella movement’ [protest sit-ins] and so our profits went down as well. Wan Chai has never really recovered from the protests.

“I am holding out that someone will come along and buy the place. We have a few interested parties already and I have my fingers crossed for myself and the rest of the staff,” he says, adding that the bar has 10 employees.

Smith says the bar will close on June 30 if a buyer is not found.

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The Carnegie’s announcement comes two days before Lan Kwai Fong bar the Hong Kong Brew House shuts its doors for the last time on June 18 due to a downturn in business.

Wan Chai has never really recovered from the [2014 Occupy] protests
Duncan Smith

Founded in 1994, Carnegie’s was one of the city’s most popular bars in the 1990s and was featured by the BBC during its coverage of the handover celebrations in 1997. Carnegie’s expanded to Taipei and to Perth, Australia, in 2001. The Perth venue was sold several years ago.

“Carnegie’s was an icon in Wan Chai, for both locals and especially visitors. People would say that you hadn’t been to Hong Kong unless you’d been to Carnegie’s, just like how Joe Bananas was in its heyday.”