Cé la Vi

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This is where the future of audio is being shaped right now - places that are full of music and great sound. It’s where people who love to innovate and experiment are drawn. Where they treat themselves and others to phenomenal audio experiences. “Places” invites you to take a look behind the scenes at these “places to be” in audio, from remarkable music clubs, to legendary recording studios and even art and audio conventions.

To get to Cé La Vi, you have to take an elevator to the 25th floor of the California Tower, a symbol of Hong Kong nightlife since the 1980s. When the building was renovated in 2010, many mourned the loss, but today club goers dance at Cé La Vi to Hip Hop, House and Electro music, and enjoy great sound.

  • Author: Astrid Blauenfelde
  • Photos: Cé la Vi

Sipping a “This Is the Life” cocktail (hibiscus water, rosehip liqueur, peach liqueur and pureed pear topped off with a splash of champagne) in the circular whirlpool on the rooftop of Cé La Vi, it’s hard to imagine that it took a courageous decision to make this hip location in Hong Kong’s trendy Lan Kwai Fong Street a reality.

Allan Zeman, who was born in Germany and grew up in modest circumstances in Canada before becoming a legend as a nightlife impresario in Hong Kong, took a considerable risk when he had the California Tower demolished in 2010. The highrise on LKF, as locals like to call the narrow street in Hong Kong’s Central district, had been a symbol of the Asian metropolis’ legendary nightlife during the 1980s.

Much More Than Just a Club

The club has just about everything, including a restaurant, a rooftop bar and a club. Those dressed well enough (think a higher level of sophisticated urban chic) can dine in the restaurant, a wood-panelled room with chandeliers sprouting exotic plants. There’s seating for up to 62 diners who can enjoy fine Asian cuisine, with sushi appetizers, chicken skewers and Hokkaido oysters.

The pulsating heart of Cé La Vi is located on the second floor: the club lounge. A lush vertical garden is growing on one of the walls and you can enjoy a drink here on a leather sofa or on one of the low stools.

Eight resident DJs get the dance floor hopping with an ambitious mix of Hip Hop, Electro and Party Pop

Cé La Vi's mission seems to be that of making all their guests content. To that end, a variety of music styles are spun. On Friday, guests dance to Party Pop; on Sundays, the bass of House fills the dance floor. There are also Hip Hop and Electro nights.

The club attracts big names like DJ Yella of the legendary NWA, Gregor Salto of Holland and Britain’s Shortee Blitz, who have all treated guests here to pumping beats throughout the night.

The DJ team at Cé La Vi has been named one of the best in Hong Kong

Eight resident DJs alternate at the turntables. The charming Mistrezz C, for example, Hong Kong’s most famous DJane, who as a youth would watch professional DJs in fascination to learn the secret of inspiring people through music. She also developed her creed during this time: Always play music of the best quality and leave no genre untouched. She spins a mix of Hip Hop, R&B, Electro and House and gets the Cé La Vi crowds on their feet Mondays through Thursdays.

On Saturday, Samir takes over the turntables. The Frenchman, who’s spent the past eight years in Hong Kong bringing the metropolis to life at night, has worked together with artists like Benny Benassi and Bob Sinclair.

Each Saturday, Cé La Vi throws its “La Nuit” party, transforming the club into a wild spectacle, with break-dancers, contortionists and artists performing to the sound of the DJs.

Music Is As Important Here as Food and Drinks

The man responsible for the club’s outstanding sound technology is Joshua Pillai, alias DJ Joshua P, Cé La Vi’s entertainment manager. Pillai began his DJ career at the end of the 1990s and still places great emphasis on sound quality. Of particular importance at Cé La Vi is the stereo imaging. “In the conception phase, we took pains to ensure the perfect distribution of the speakers in the club,” says Pillai. Sound tuning also plays a central role. It’s been done in a way that doesn’t make the music feel too invasive but still ensures that there’s pulsating energy. “Instead of just playing music loudly, we tune it so that you get all the highs, the mid-range tones and the bass,” says Pillai. At Cé La Vi, the music is at least as important as eating and drinking well. “We’re fastidious about achieving the right sound balance,” the entertainment manager says.

If you get tired from all the dancing and need a short break, a spiral staircase leads up to the Skybar on the rooftop, where you can soak in the whirlpool bubbles or chill in one of the wicker chairs. Young women in high heels and men in black suits take selfies here with the skyline as their backdrop.

In theory, a person could spend the entire evening and night at Cé La Vi, starting with an aperitif in the Skybar, followed by dinner in the restaurant and a cocktail in the club. That would set you back about 1,000 Hong Kong dollars, or about €115. Despite its high prices, Cé La Vi is still draws a good crowd, perhaps because the California Tower, even after being rebuilt, remains a nightlife symbol. But it might also be because it’s not easy to surprise people with a new club in populous Hong Kong. Cé La Vi has managed to do exactly that.

Address: 25/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong
Capacity: Restaurant seats 62, Skybar seats 90 and the club lounge seats 60.
Musik: Hip Hop, House, Electro, Party Pop, RnB
Dress code: sophisticated city chic
Opening times:
• Restaurant: Mondays to Fridays between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
• Club Lounge/SkyBar: From midday – DJs begin spinning at 6 p.m. during the week and at 10 p.m. on Saturdays.
Website: http://hk.celavi.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/celavihongkong