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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 29, 2004

Mercury's off nights sublimely cool, too

 •  Dungeon does Halloween, 11th b'day

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Left to right, John Ayala, Dave Chirag and Leslie Round share a laugh at Mercury at Fort Street Mall.

Photos by Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

From left, Prashamsa Tewari of Kane'ohe and Rasjid Reksodiputro of Manoa play a game of chess.


1154 Fort Street Mall, No. 10 (entrance on Chaplain Lane)

3 p.m.-2 a.m., weekdays; 7:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays; 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Sundays


Recurring parties:

Mercurial Jazz (live jazz and DJs), 10 p.m.-2 a.m., third Friday of every month.

Solid (live and DJed house, drum-n-bass, hip-hop), 9 p.m.-2 a.m., fourth Saturday of every month

Le Fonque (live and DJed breakbeat, hip-hop, funk, drum-n-bass, electro), 10 p.m.-2 a.m., second Friday of every month.

The Freestyle Lounge (mixed-genre live music and DJs, open mike), 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesdays.

Ground Control Sundaze (reggae), 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Sundays.

Super Fly Wednesdays (DJed funk, hip-hop, reggae, trip-hop), 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesdays.

Chaplain Lane is really just a glorified alley.

Oh sure, on a damp night it's sort of cinematically cool in "A-Film-by-Paul-Schrader"-ish kind of way. But you probably wouldn't want to be there after hours if you didn't have reason to.

Perhaps that's why I found Mercury instantly likeable.

Nestled on the lane with only a small metallic marquee lighted by moody red lamps as identifiers, Mercury is an oasis of arty cool in the midst of urban funk.

Since opening in January, Mercury has had some success with parties featuring a mix of live and DJed music styles (see box, right). But Mercury might just be at its best on off nights, when it's simply a cool hang for conversations and libations.

We showed up on one of these nights — a recent Friday 'round 9. My partner in Night Stuff's first impression after soaking in a bit of scene while I picked up drinks for our trio: "It's kind of like Starbucks with liquor."

Mercury's decor actually has a bit more personality than that. Clutches of end tables and comfortably deep-sinking couches and chairs occupy the perimeter of the L-shaped lounge and bar. Art by Honolulu photographer Kim Kinard hangs on walls shaded in deep maroon, gold and black.

The sound system — tossing out Portishead, Toots and the Maytals and Cam'ron — set some mood, but never drowned out all-important conversation.

Immersed in often-raucous discussions on everything from evening plans to mid-terms, the bulk of Mercury's two-dozen or so patrons took up all of the bar seats. Dressed mostly casually in day wear, the crowd seemed heavy on students from nearby Hawaii Pacific University. A handful of office-dressy downtown workers closed the work week with drinks, smokes and catty conversation.

Truth be told, my Night Stuff partner's Starbucks analogy also stemmed from the sight of several laptops and open textbooks taking up space on tables while their owners broke from studies at the bar. A chessboard was set for play at one table, and unused backgammon sets were scattered around the room.

Mercury's drink prices seemed entirely reasonable. A bottle of Guinness Stout and a soda: $5 total.

We closed out a couple of hours at Mercury with a seductive remix of Sade's "By Your Side" and an impromptu discussion on life in general with a charming stranger named Christina.

In a back corner, a twenty-something male huddled over his PowerBook and a Guinness, listening to — what else? — Dire Straits' "Making Movies."

Reach Derek Paiva at 525-8005 or dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com.

• • •

Dungeon does Halloween, 11th b'day

The Dungeon doesn't just spin Ministry's "Everyday Is Halloween" each month. It lives it.

Since bowing on Halloween 1993 in now-departed Kaka'ako club The Sanctuary, The Dungeon has become Honolulu's longest-running fetish-themed monthly. Sharing the love at any given edition are hell-bent-for-leather state workers, pain-loving retail folk and even bank tellers who just like to, um, watch.

The after-hours institution celebrates its 11th birthday tonight with a pre-Halloween bash at Galaxy night club. Free rein — so to speak — of steel cages, iron crosses and flogging stocks is included in the cover, but expect to wait in line for 'em.

Organizers note that The Dungeon has hosted one marriage ceremony and likely prompted several divorces over the years. Surprisingly, The Dungeon is also one of the most welcoming dens of perversion you'll find.

The Dungeon celebrates 11 years of alternative lifestyles on the, well, fetish side with a pre-Halloween party tonight at the Galaxy night club. Guests are free to participate in the fun or just watch.

Advertiser library photo

Guests are free to participate or watch. The doorman will gladly let you in even if your closet is more Banana Republic linen and cotton than Pitiful Boot Licker leather or rubber. And don't be surprised if a dominatrix takes a Red Bull break from her flogging and strikes up a conversation.

"Because it caters to an alternative market that, for the most part, is usually shunned in society, I think everybody's a bit more open-minded," said Galaxy manager Chris Rice. "We've got lawyers, doctors, tellers. ... You can go there with anonymity and just let your hair down and do whatever you want to do as long as it's not illegal and you're not hurting anybody. ... It's a freeing vibe."

Resident DJs spin a smart mix of alternative, industrial, goth, classic dance and dark wave dating back to the '80s in two rooms from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. From there, both rooms go full-on techno until sunrise.


At 1739 Kalakaua Ave; 18 and older. $20. www.dungeonhawaii.com, www.honoluluclublife.com.