New bars and restaurants are opening in Dongguan seemingly every month. This month’s bar review ventures to Houjie Town, a place better known for its factories than nightlife. The area has a bar street, but until now it was more of a concept than an actual district of nightlife destinations.
Delivering variety and promising appeal to an area, that consisted until recently of only two Chinese style night clubs, is a laid back watering hole called Blue Orleans. Londoner Jay Illage, who worked in Shenzhen and Hong Kong bars as a musician for the previous three years, and around the world for the last 21, opened the American stylized blues and jazz bar back on May 7.
Located near the entrance to the street that has two lanes separated by a small strolling park, it is a walk-up second floor bar with plenty of space. Following the climb, patrons will find two bars – one in service and the other arranged as a host/ticket booth, which speaks to its aspirations of becoming a music venue. This early in its existence the spot has not been able to book dates on the tour schedule of any outstanding acts, but Illidge knew this would be his biggest challenge. “Our aim is to have live music four nights per week, we would ideally have a house band for three nights and a different band come play for us one night of every weekend, most likely a Friday,” he said.
What we can say about the place at the moment is that it is relaxing, not overly priced and the atmosphere is full of potential. Illidge knows how to make his patrons feel at home and he seems to be making it his job to mingle with the crowds. He is slyly adept at convincing them to join his nightly guitarist in some rousing renditions.
The place is a lady in waiting, with innards built for entertaining a large amount of music fans. It was decorated on a budget, which will allow for the establishment to upgrade as it becomes more popular. At this point it is certainly a destination for those living and working in Houjie, but with a few acts it hopes to draw crowds from around the city when it is the flag location for his dreams of expanding the brand throughout the delta region. “A lot of great Chinese bands and musicians are suffering from underexposure and being ignored by many big city bars and clubs,” said Illidge.