Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 8, 2001

Club Scene
Spy Bar patrons there to strut their chic

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

The John Dominis Restaurant after-hours Friday nightclub, the Spy Bar, is a singles scene where patrons dress to impress and mingle to be seen.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The Spy Bar

10:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays

John Dominis Restaurant, 43 'Ahui St.



Pick-up joint.

Definition: Spy Bar.

Simple. There's nothing secretive or mysterious about it.

But there is something strangely exciting about making the trek through the unmistakable scent of grime and fish guts wafting from Kewalo Basin toward the evening's destination. Because the reward for surviving the industrial stench — and the epic battle for parking — is the chance to rub bare shoulders with all those deemed "divine" enough to enter.

Though the term is loosely defined.

The Spy Bar's oft-discussed dress code of "divine" ranges anywhere from weekend jeans to Monday Dockers to Friday-night Lycra. Leather jackets, cowboy hats, aloha shirts, crochet, Spandex, tight. Often the antonym of the word, meaning "of or like God." And almost always not with intentions of being holy.

"Dress to impress" was Lan Chung's definition of "divine." The fashionable 27-year-old manager at Agnes b combined Juicy Jeans with name-brand top and sandals for a casual-chic look fitting for the venue — John Dominis Restaurant minus the tables and electricity.

Upscale but noisy. Spacious but crowded. The allure of the Spy Bar is debatable.

"Everybody's here just because everybody's here," Chung said with a shrug.

Hundreds of socialites and singles were crammed into the restaurant-turned-nightspot. Wall-to-wall bodies — some glittery, some glistening — forced to make conversation by the impossibility of avoidance.

Even reporters on assignment are fair game:

"Why do you come here?"

"Why not?"

"But why here?"

"To meet you."

With no distinct dance floor, the Spy Bar was just a sea of halter tops and hair gel, bad jokes and worse pick-up lines, moving to the tune of house and hip-hop. Turn on the lights and it would be an office party.

A true singles bar, a pick-up joint, the be-seen scene.

"Why would a single, good-looking guy go to a club?" a neatly dressed twentysomething, casually clad in jeans and a white T-shirt, asked rhetorically. "To meet chicks. That's why I'm here."

Part W, part Ocean's, with the same crowd who used to spend Saturday nights at the old World Cafe in Restaurant Row. This is Spy Bar.

"The crowd can't get that much different," Chung said. "Everybody's looking for the new venue."

And this one has all the trappings of "that new hot spot": provocative dress code, an ocean view, restaurant-style booths perfect for escapists or romantics. And it's probably the only club in the state with a tank of live lobsters, a reminder of its day job as a restaurant.

Still, the Spy Bar offers the perfect ambiance for the clubber who wants to be surrounded by visual stimulation.

"It's a lot more upscale than the other clubs," said 28-year-old Narisa Brakongsheep, decked in a halter and jeans with the typical club accessories — cute bag and matching cell phone. "I like it. But I just got here."