End of an era as Lan Kwai Fong institution Club 97 calls it a day

With a run lasting an incredible 34 years, Club 97 was once one of Hong Kong’s premier nightspots, and attracted local and international celebrities in its heyday in the ’80s and ’90s

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 10:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 August, 2016, 10:13am

Club 97, Hong Kong’s longest-running nightclub, will be closing its doors at the end of this month after 34 years of operation.

When it opened in Lan Kwai Fong in 1982, it became one of the city’s most popular and exclusive nightspots, outlasting by decades the other clubs from the era such as Canton Disco in Kowloon and Disco Disco in Lan Kwai Fong, and attracting a stream of international and local celebrities.

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Club 97 was established by local nightlife impresario Christian Rhomberg and his 97 Group, which also operated the venues Post ’97, La Dolce Vita and El Pomposo. In 2006 the 97 Group was acquired by Epicurean, which also runs other iconic Hong Kong venues such as The Peak Lookout, and Jimmy’s Kitchen in Central and Kowloon.

Local DJ Steve Bruce was a regular behind the decks at the club.

“When I first came to Hong Kong in 1997, Club 97 was the place to see and be seen – they had a door bitch and an airtight guest list. Club 97 was an institution. I started and finished many long days and nights at Post 97 for lunch/brunch, with ‘Club’ – as it was affectionately known – in between.

“Club 97 always had a sense of community, that you were part of something. I met several future girlfriends there and I know of several other relationship that started there.”

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The club remained popular with the city’s gay crowd, but after its heyday in the 1980s and ’90s, Club 97’s fortunes declined as it struggled to attract a younger generation of night owls, who flocked instead to other clubs in Central such as Dragon-i, Volar and Beijing Club. The decline in popularity took a toll on the venue.

“This place seemed more like a dive bar,” a recent reviewer wrote on Yelp. “Cheap Christmas lights taped to the walls with black tape. Huge air conditioners were obviously exposed. Regardless of surroundings, the people here were having so much fun. Remember to bring good company.”

Club 97’s closure comes as the latest blow to the image of Lan Kwai Fong, which has been under fire due to an invasion of 7-Eleven outlets affecting business at established bars, and reports of widespread drug dealing.

The club will be holding its farewell bash on August 27 at an event featuring former resident DJ Teng Boon.

Epicurean has been asked to comment on the club’s closure.