Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cambiare - The Suspiria Bar

I've been up to a lot of no good this week. On top of trying to get screenings going for my film "New Neighbor", I put up a piece on the production of the three episodes of "The ABCS of Death" I was on set for in my blog over at Monster Pictures, a DVD / Blu-ray label down in Australia.

If you want to check out that blog entry, click on this photo of Arisa Nakamura I took on set as she attempts to "cut the cheese" for the camera on "F is for Fart".

In more personal news, I went to the opening of "Cambiare", AKA The Suspiria Bar, in the Golden Gai section of Shinjuku on 6 June 2013.

As I'm too lazy to write my own entry, I am copy-pasting the Wiki entry on Golden Gai:

"Golden Gai is a small area of Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan, famous both as an area of architectural interest and for its nightlife. It is composed of a network of six narrow alleys, connected by even narrower passageways which are just about wide enough for a single person to pass through. Over 200 tiny shanty-style bars, clubs and eateries are squeezed into this area."

Well, unless you are some kind of a fat pig you can easily navigate the so-called "narrower passageways". Other than that, I guess this description is spot-on.

I've been going to Golden Gai off and on for a couple of years now. One of the things I like about it is that it's quiet and in general, a good chill spot to meet up with friends. The things I don't like about it are that it can be pricy and, as with most small bars in Japan, they have a table charge. (If you are unsure if you are being charged to occupy chair space, you'll know for certain if the bartender places some sort of food item in front of you. This can range from a simple cup of peanuts to some sort of cooked item.) I guess if you drink like a fish a table charge is not a big deal, but I don't pound away the brew, and sometimes just want a single beer. I don't mean I milk a beer for hours on end, I mean, sometimes I have a beer and split. In that scenario a table charge is a huge pain in the ass.

The other I thing don't like about the area - and this really is no fault of the area itself - are annoying foreigner types looking to impress friends back home with their stupid tales of "wild Japan" who turn Golden Gai into some kind of virtual reality Blade Runner theme park. I'm not knocking the area, but as I said, it's a pretty quiet spot and, when you get down to it, is basically a friggin' dump.

But, as a long time fan of Goblin, Argento and of course the film "Suspiria", there wasn't anyway I wasn't going to not spend the entire 20minutes it takes to get from my home to Golden Gai. I'd also been invited to go by my friend Yoshiki Takahashi, who acted as an advisor on the design of Cambiare.

Yoshiki and I hit our favorite yakiniku restaurant beforehand where we reaffirmed our commitment to the nonproliferation of vegetarianism.

The "Suspiria" bar is on the second floor of a building at the end of one of the alleyways of Golden Gai. The sign out front and in the flyer said that for the opening they had an all you can eat and drink price of 3,000 yen in effect. This sounded reasonable to me, especially for Golden Gai.

We walked in to find the place jam packed, which is totally what I expected. People were pressed together and chatting fiercely with beers held close to their faces since arms couldn't be lowered - all while the Goblin song "Black Forest" played over head.

In no time friends turned up. They included artist Miyako Kojima, heavy metal enthusiast Mika Tatamama, model / translator Haruka Hazard, dancer Maico Tsubaki, actor Yuya Ishikawa, impossible to describe Roserose Moonwitch and writer Kiichiro Yanashita, to name a few. Yeah, good friggin' times.

The bar itself was cool and as advertised is based on imagery found in the Dario Argento film "Suspiria". The left wall has the same black / white (silver?) flower design as found in Olga's room while on the other side of the bar is a stained glass window like in the hallway of Suzy's school, at least I guess that's where it's from, I'll have to re-watch the film to make sure. There was also some floor design stuff going on but this was impossible to admire since the place was so packed. Hanging from the ceiling was a red chandelier that I couldn't figure out where in "Suspiria" it comes from. (I guess I really do need to re-watch it!) Best of all, there was Goblin music going on all night. This is for me ultra-bliss. I should mention that I could sit in a Greyhound bus terminal all day and be happy as long as they had Goblin coming from the speakers. 

I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't a wall given over to any Escher prints like in the film. There also weren't any Suspiria items, like posters or lobby cards. I guess you could say that the bar is more about the art direction and style of Suspiria than Suspiria the movie. If this is so, I think they could do a little more to up the ante in this department with a few more bits from the film. But what the hell? A bar based on the art direction of "Suspiria"? Yeah baby!

On the way home I was thinking... "I should open a bar based on the art direction in Romero's zombie films! We can have the windows boarded up on one end, and on the other have a blow up photo of the second floor of the Monroeville Mall! Yeah, that's totally what I should do!

Until next time...

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