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The Wunderbar

  • 8th Dec, 2006 at 3:16 AM

W Montreal
Originally uploaded by bopuc.

The Wunderbar in the W Montréal is one of those spots where people too cool to hang out at trashy bars go to. Trashy bars are fun places, because the people are shameless at having fun. Cool bars are fun places, mostly because the people are just plain shameless.

I was supposed to meet dzuunmod there, but I was busy packing for my flight to California.1 By the time I stepped out of the taxi, they were already gone. But I had consciousness to burn, since I had an early morning flight. And there was no way I'd go to sleep. If I did, I'd sleep right through my boarding call.

I walked up to the door, the doorman got it, and I went inside. After checking my coat, I strode into the club.

The Wunderbar is decked out like a dance club on a Friday night. This seemed appropriate, as it was Friday night. There were lights everywhere, lining on the walls, embedded in the wavy plastic ceiling, illuminating the liquours. They pulsated to the beat of the music, as did the patrons.

They clutched their expensive, yet trendy drinks, as they danced to a mix of popular beats. Mostly R&B or hip-hop, with some pop thrown in for good measure. Most of the songs were about women and their sex appeal, which inspired a group of them to get up on a railing and start dancing. I think a bouncer asked them to get down before they broke their necks. This was surprising as few people looked properly drunk. Like I said, the drinks were expensive.

What I've been noticing when I go out is the incredible sameness of people. But here, the sameness is different. There were obviously business types in attendence on the night I went out. Twenty-somethings for whom off-the-rack suits and little black dresses are de rigeur. That's just like those indie shows I go to, where everyone is wearing their horn-rimmed glasses and black hoodies.

Although the bar was decked out like a posh dance club and sounded like a dance club, very few people were actually dancing. Few of them had any rhythm and the ones that did basically stood in one spot and jiggled. Occassionally, some guy would ask a girl to dance, but they'd shimmy awkwardly before collapsing on a couch again.

The others would stand around and try to talk over the music. This was difficult as the bass was pumped until you could feel the floor thump. The treble was tweaked so it sounded ethereal. Still, the DJ was excellent, transitioning so seemlessly that song flowed right into the next. But you could tell that the DJ was there to do his job. He surveyed the crowd with disinterest, from behind in his eerily-lit booth, protected by his headphones and his MacBook. His outsider status was confirmed with his Come on Feel the Illinoise shirt.

On the opposite side of the bar, there's a sunken VIP lounge lined with couches. Moments before I sat down to write in my notebook, the place was filled with people making out. I have no idea where they went. One couple seems to have migrated in front of the bar, which doesn't have a lot of space. People constantly have to squeeze past them.

In one corner, there were some middle-aged businessmen trying to kick back and relax. This was actually pretty difficult as they were being constantly interrupted by us young ones. They also seemed to be actively not staring at the ladies who walked past, attempting to converse uncomfortably instead. After they finished their beers, they gave up and left. They were the only ones that had suits that fit.

For all the supposed exclusivity of the Wunderbar, the bouncers actually do a terrible job of keeping the riff-raff out. While I was there, I managed to see long-haired students waving around beer bottles, a girl in a grey pullover hoodie swigging from a waterbottle, an awkward balding man in an argyle sweater, a lank boy with an improperly tied tie. Oh yeah, they let me in too. But I had a clever disguise on, since I look good dressed all preppy.

I had to leave in the early morning as I had an errand to run, so I picked up my greatcoat and headed for the door. It was an interesting and glitzy place. I wouldn't mind going back and doing more people watching. It could prove to be interesting for a group of us to sit down and take over.

1 That was over a month ago, isn't that crazy? I'm so late at writing this up, it's scaring me. It's a good thing I took copious notes at the time.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
8th Dec, 2006 14:49 (UTC)
I'm sorry we missed you. It would've been a somewhat surreal space for a first meeting with someone.
8th Dec, 2006 19:24 (UTC)
Since we still haven't met, perhaps we can try for it a second time? :)
8th Dec, 2006 19:43 (UTC)
Well, I don't know about a return visit to the W specifically (1-Not my kind of place, and; 2-Not my kinds of prices), however I've been craving a trip to a (at least somewhat) luxurious, old-time piano lounge lately. Would that interest you? Do you know of any good ones in this city?
8th Dec, 2006 20:16 (UTC)
I personally thought the W would be interesting for a few more visits, at least. It's not my kind of place either, but I like to give new things their chance.

I don't personally know of a good piano lounge, but I understand that there's one in Le Reine Elizabeth. Perhaps that might be something to check out?
8th Dec, 2006 19:45 (UTC)
Also, I love that you made note of the DJ's Sufjan Stevens shirt. While I was there I overheard, one drunk patron say to someone he didn't know, "I wonder what Eddie Vedder over there is gonna play next?"
8th Dec, 2006 20:21 (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
8th Dec, 2006 19:24 (UTC)
It is swanky. Swanky enough to throw a party in, which is something I've been strongly considering.
8th Dec, 2006 17:36 (UTC)
Please explain, in detail, reference to off the rack suits.

1) I'm pretty much a perfect 16.5" 34/35 44R 32 (boots) or 30 (normal shoes). So I've noticed very little difference in fit between my off the rack clothes and my bespoke/custom/tailored clothes, except that the tailored stuff was cheaper because it is from BKK/HKG.

2) I thought younger people were more likely to get tailored clothes than middle aged guys, especially businessmen.

3) Off the rack, meaning also they only infrequently wore suits as well?

Also, the problem with bouncers there is that anyone who shows a W room key has to be let in, in addition to bar customers -- and they never change the keys (which is why I have room keys for virtually every hotel chain worldwide, and any specific hotels with different keys, for pool/lounge/etc. access)

I walked in while unsober, wearing t-shirt, boots, and dirty pants, having just driven up from boston, and since I was a guest, I tried going in to get a drink, and was scared away by the trendiness.
8th Dec, 2006 19:31 (UTC)
Please explain, in detail, reference to off the rack suits.

I'm talking about how all the men looked like they were wearing the same cut of suit. For some, it looked great. But for most, it looked like they didn't get the alterations they needed. So the bar had a lot of people uncomfortably wearing standard business attire in the standard black. I was hoping for some attention to colour or style from the guys.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )