Before you even reach the main room, the entrance hall of Phebe 3D Club hints at the oddness to come. Just inside the door a girl sits playing a see-through grand piano while slowly rotating on a circular platform. She’s flanked by a bank of iMacs and a giant video wall where you can indulge in a shoot ’em up video game. Oh, and there’s mini golf as well. Of course there is. A small putting green comes complete with PING clubs, allowing you to sink a few holes while you listen to the revolving pianist and your friends shoot aliens or surf the web. And that’s just the entrance hall.
Already with branches in Fuzhou, Suzhou and Changsha, the Phebe behemoth – known as Phever Pub in most cities – comes courtesy of the people behind Sky, MT and Paramount clubs. Their formula of outlandish interiors and chart music is one that the locals love and it’s clear that the chain has their sights trained firmly on the No. 88 crowd.The main room of the ‘3D Club’ as it bills itself (surely all clubs are 3D?) is about twice the size of SIN, and is filled with tables of people rattling dice and being served drinks with sparklers in, ensuring that there is no real dancefloor. There’s a small stage by the bar where dancers occasionally appear to do ridiculous routines and a cramped space in front of it, but people are here to drink and rattle dice rather than dance.Surrounding it all are semi-secluded rooms with sofas for VIPs to survey the spectacle below.
Gaudy faux baroque furniture abounds underneath bombastic chandeliers while a pounding chart R&B and hip pop soundtrack booms out over the masses. It’s such a ridiculously over-the-top and thoroughly bizarre place that by the time you come across a giant ten foot tall model of a knight on a horse in one corner, you’re no longer all that surprised. Even the toilets are noteworthy. Tucked around the corner from a small room that features a pair of massage chairs are some of the fanciest squats you’ve ever seen, with fake jewel-encrusted exteriors. In the men’s bathrooms, urinals are housed in the nether regions of caricatures of large women – it’s hard not to feel a little pee shy.
You spend so long gaping in awe at everything going on around you that you almost forget that this is a club, not some kind of bewildering circus. Most people here are taking advantage of the table service, but if you do make it to the bar, you’ll find it doubles as a series of blackjack tables, apparently staffed by models. And if you actually get to the point of ordering a drink, beers by the bottle will set you back 45-50RMB while standard cocktails range from 45-80RMB.You might find you need a drink to numb the shock. While Phebe might not be somewhere you end up regularly, the ridiculousness of it all makes it one of those bars that, just like No. 88, you have to try at least once. Jake Newby