The live music scene in Hong Kong has gone through ups and downs over the past couple of years. But once the ban on performances in restaurants and nightlife venues comes to an end on October 20, there are plenty of joints in the city willing to prove that the 852’s partying spirit lives on. Here’s our pick of some of the hottest party spots in town — whether you want to chill out over the weekend or have an after-hours outing during the week.
Remember, before you enter a nightlife establishment like a pub, bar, club or nightclub, you need to have a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result obtained within the previous 24 hours. The same goes for if you want to enter the bar or pub area of a restaurant.
The Fringe Club — Central
This landmark venue has hosted established and aspiring professionals in all manner of the arts for more than three decades. This iconic red-and-white bricked building also has historical significance worth noting, as it was the Old Dairy Farm Depot and is a Grade I-listed heritage building. The space has played host to legendary Hong Kong acts like Beyond and Tai Chi, as well as stand-up comics and artists. They regularly invite jazz ensembles and classical orchestras to play, and have frequent live jazz music sessions.
2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong | + 852 2521 7251
DarkSide — Tsim Sha Tsui
The Rosewood bar’s signature cocktails and cigars earned it the No. 13 spot on Asia’s Best Bars list for 2021, but those in the know also head here for great live music. When DarkSide reopened in May this year, the brains behind the bar’s cocktails came up with a retro classics-themed menu. And when its stage comes alive again, there will be new jazz acts who will play sultry tunes to round off your evening.
Rosewood Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong | +852 3891 8732
Grappa’s Cellar — Causeway Bay
It’s a testament to a venue’s popularity when news of its imminent closure sparks an online petition to keep it open. That’s what happened when Grappa’s Cellar had to close in Central in 2019 after the landlord refused to renew the lease. But the subterranean nightspot — which hosted the likes of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan and comics like Tom Green and Doug Stanhope — found a new home in Causeway Bay, where its lower ground-level premises in Lee Garden Two meant the change in address didn’t have to come with a change in name. The interiors and menu feature some elements from the old space that have been revamped, which is just enough to give old-timers a sense of familiarity and pique newbies’ curiosity.
LG08, LG/F, Lee Garden Two, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong | + 852 3529 1871
Sound Department — Central
Sound Department combines hip hop and rap performances with champagne to give patrons a night to remember. The idea behind the venture is to introduce club culture to a wider audience. DJ nights will feature predominantly on their line-up after the ban is lifted.
Lower G/F, Malahon Centre, 8-12 Stanley Street, Central & Western District, Hong Kong | + 852 3560 0433
Terrible Baby — Jordan
The name of this joint is a literal translation of the French term “L’enfant terrible”, which is used to describe someone who behaves in an unconventional or controversial way. Perfect if you’re on the lookout for a place where you can listen to bands and DJs perform live, or even create your own music. The bar opens out to an outdoor terrace and music room, where you can record or mix your own tracks.
4/F, Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong | + 852 2710 1866
The Iron Fairies — Central
If you’re on the hunt for a haunt with a whimsical touch, then you can’t go wrong stopping by a subterranean club with interiors inspired by the mines of Western Australia. While most pub crawlers come here for the drinks, to marvel at the foundry-inspired décor, and get gram-worthy pics of the butterflies suspended from the ceiling, they also get a complete night-out experience on evenings when there’s a live band in the house. And depending on when you walk in, you’ll hear everything from pop music and smooth jazz, to blues tunes and reggae beats.
LG Floor, 1-13 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong | + 852 6202 0000
Nathan Left — Tsim Sha Tsui
Does your idea of a great evening out include live music and a chill bar? Then Nathan Left has got you covered. Enjoy an evening dining on comfortingly familiar fare like spaghetti carbona and steak, while you tap your feet to tunes by bands like H20, Club Fiasco and Franklin Telescope.
G/F & 1/F, 5-9 Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong | + 852 2369 1333
Madame Fu — Tai Kwun
This is one of the most happening F&B spots in Tai Kwun, with its 1920s-inspired interiors and fine-dining experiences. If you pop by on a Thursday or Friday evening, you’ll get treated to mellow jazz, courtesy VoSSa, which you can enjoy over contemporary Cantonese cuisine. If you’d rather dance, make plans to head here on Saturday night to groove to DJ-curated tunes.
3rd Floor, Barrack Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong | + 852 2114 2118
Lost Stars Livehouse Bar & Eatery — Tai Kok Tsui
You can get a pretty good idea of what’s happening at this Tai Kok Tsui spot even before you enter, courtesy the floor-length windows. You’ll see local indie acts playing to tables of diners amid cozy interiors. Kick back and enjoy happy hour as you sample dishes from their menu that feature a set lunch (priced between HK$88 and HK$168), an all-day breakfast (HK$148), and their a la carte offerings — all while you get an introduction to Hong Kong acts that play a wide range of genres like folk, pop, jazz, and R&B.
G/F, Shop 506, 11 Li Tak Street, Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong | + 852 2337 6728
Foxglove — Central
The theme: Frank Minza. The dress code: smart casual. The music: Jazz, what else? Add classic cocktails with an exotic twist and dim sum to the mix, and you’re in for a culinary and musical trip to the mid-20th century that you won’t forget anytime soon.
2/F, Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong | + 852 2116 8949
Ned Kelly’s Last Stand — Tsim Sha Tsui
Here’s a nightspot with an old-school Hong Kong vibe that’s endured for 50 years. It’s got a fair bit of history and has hosted international performers like Jimmy Rogers, Rosemary Clooney, Sergio Mendez Band, and Kenny Ball & His Jazzband. Of course, several well-known homegrown bands have taken the stage here too — think Ken Bennett & The Kowloon Honkers, Dennis James & The Jamestown Five, and Colin Aitchison & The China Coast Jazzmen. So, get comfortable, down a pint or two, and listen up to what Ned Kelly’s Last Stand has to offer.
G/F, 11A Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong | + 852 2376 0562
Quality Goods Club — Central & Western District
Walk into Quality Goods Club on any night and you’d probably hear something different each time, whether it’s gypsy swing, disco, or the beats from a DJ’s console. Then, of course, there are the cocktails — we suggest the Crystal Tower version if you’re going in a big group — that’ll get you in the mood to groove.
Basement, On Lok House, 39-43 Hollywood Road, Central & Western District, Hong Kong | Quality Goods Club
The Wanch — Wan Chai
The Wanch has been a fixture on Hong Kong’s music landscape for 30 years. While it was best known at its 54 Jaffe Road location, the livehouse had to move due to several reasons: the social unrest in 2019, the pandemic, and the building owner’s decision to convert the premises to a hotel. They’re now in a bigger space at 90 Jaffe Road and have adopted a new-normal approach to Hong Kong’s volatile live music situation, like getting artists to do livestream shows with monitors so they can see the crowd they’re playing for. But they’re now ready to welcome musicians back onto the stage so they can recapture the good old Wanch vibe.
1/F, Henan Building, 90 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong | + 852 3692 5933
Treasure Island Beach Club — Pui O
This weekend-only restaurant — it’s also open on public holidays — is a perfect reflection of Lantau’s laidback vibe. Take your pick from their beach-inspired food and drinks menu and enjoy the view of Pui O’s sandy shores. And, of course, there’s music in the form of a live band or DJ, which will set the tone for a relaxing meal.
Pui O Beach, Lantau Island, Hong Kong | + 852 5236 7013
The Aftermath — Central
The Aftermath may be a relatively new entrant to the Hong Kong entertainment space, but since its launch in 2019, it’s gained a rep for providing a space for musicians and shows across genres. The founders, Alicia Beale and Kyle Haynes, have gotten well-known bands such as R.I.D.D.E.M, Nowhere Boys and Priceless Boat to perform at The Aftermath, and organised heavy metal nights, rock fests and hip-hop ciphers. Once the live-performance ban is lifted, they will have a new roster of live acts. Most of their live-band nights are free, but some are ticketed, so check their socials before you head there.
L/G, 57-59 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong | @theafterm
Lau Bak Livehouse — West Kowloon Cultural District
If you’re strolling down the waterfront at West Kowloon and feel like unwinding over craft beer, you may want to step into Lau Bak Livehouse. Located in the Freespace area of the Art Park, it has live music sessions every weekend and gigs every week. While the emphasis is mostly on jazz, there are acts that play pop, funk and indie folk.
Livehouse G/F, Freespace, West Kowloon Cultural District, 18 Museum Drive, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong | + 852 2868 4333
A Tavola Bar & Grill — Tung Chung
There’s nothing like some good old bar food and beer to round off the work week. And it’s a bonus if the music is good. A Tavola Bar & Grill’s Tung Chung branch offers its diners bar staples like burgers, pizzas and grills, along with beer and cocktails, while they enjoy live entertainment courtesy Rita & The Oracles on weekends.
Shops E & F, G/F Seaview Crescent Plaza, 8 Tung Chung Waterfront Road, Lantau Island, Hong Kong | + 852 2321 5500
Mihn Club — Sheung Wan
This club, which has a strict no-pictures and no-videos policy, is reopening after being renovated. They feature a DJ every Friday and Saturday, who usually plays electronic music. When they reopen on October 22, they will have their first international acts behind the console after nearly three years.
4F, 279 Des Voeux Rd Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong | +852 5918 3870
Header image credits: The Iron Fairies via Facebook