Pool halls tend to be smoky, sleazy dives and Racks, on Hong Kong's Wellington Street, is certainly smoky enough. It is also, in the best sense of the word, a dive. But the sleaze hasn't been able to get a foot in the door since the club's opening five months ago because there simply isn't any room. Pouting models, at-ease bankers, media types and celebrities (Josh Hartnett was spotted there last month) crowd the floor instead. Paparazzi stake out the entrance, as well as the floors of the office tower across the road.
"Would you like to photograph those jeans?" asks a designer, gesturing at some lavishly detailed denim that his model companion sports while leaning across the bright yellow baize of the nearest table. TIME politely declines. But Racks is that sort of pool hall.
For co-owner, designer and DJ Drafus Chow, the fabulous, air-kissing clientele is a happy by-product of his original, and considerably more straightforward, intention: to set up a place where he and like-minded friends could play cue games. While Hong Kong boasts snooker halls aplenty, venues offering American pool are a rarity. "In fact, there's only one other I know of on Hong Kong island," says Chow, "with a two-hour wait for a table. So Racks was set up out of necessity." The new hall's location on the fringes of the Lan Kwai Fong clubbing district, plus the timing of its launch (coming just as partygoers were tiring of the usual drinking and dancing venues) ensured full houses from the start. So did the brimming contact lists of Chow's co-investors, who include TV personality Min Yoo, entertainment-company chief Alex Shum and model Damon Howe. "We kind of hoped it would happen," says Chow of Racks' standing among the A list, "but you never know."
For now, visitors who pass scrutiny will be admitted to Racks' premises on the seventh floor of the entertainment-themed M88 building. But as lower floors fill up with nightclubs, Chow warns that "a strict members-only policy" will be enforced to control numbers. That could be your cue, as it were, to get down to Racks while the going is good. Read more at www.racksmdb.com.
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