Names can be misleading. Think ‘Affairs’ and it raises certain expectations: secluded booths, low lighting, maybe the odd semen stain on the curtains. You get the idea. The last thing that springs to mind is free karaoke and your own stage. Seriously, if you rendezvous here for a spot of clandestine nasty, you’re either about to be dumped or you’re on the best blind date Susan Boyle’s ever had. In both cases, you’d be better off with a skin flick and a bag of chips. This isn’t that kind of place.
Affairs is the lovechild of couple Joy and Owen Wu. It might be hidden away like some dirty little secret in the corner of Fangjia’s Courtyard 46, but inside it’s more Willy Wonka than Ann Summers. Stone floors and long wooden tables lend the huge bar an oddly medieval vibe, as if the owners were expecting a wandering horde to stop by, play a few frames of pool, slam a token into the foosball table (10RMB a play) and then belt out some Adele on the mic.
It’s not a flaw so much as the actual business model. This whole bar is geared towards large parties. There are kegs of German beer for 450RMB, pitchers of weak, syrupy cocktails for 120RMB, and deals on bottled beers by the half-dozen. The brew selection (20-35RMB) is bog-standard, without so much as a Leffe to its name, but that’s missing the point. Quantity and good times are the aim. It’s as if someone who’d never set foot inside a TGI Friday’s imagined what it would be like and got it totally wrong – but in an interesting way.
Drenched in coloured lights and with a giant projector screen, the karaoke stage is so diva that you’ll be demanding M&Ms separated by colour by 9pm and dead in a bathtub before the night is out. Upstairs, a louche mezzanine balcony, decked out in white leather sofas, emits a rather creepy VIP vibe. Steer clear.
Affairs is best enjoyed when surrounded by revellers; sadly, the nature of the beast is that unless you’re the one booking it out, that’s unlikely to happen. But for what is basically a drunken playground for adults, it’s a welcome respite from the typical hutong simulacra rammed with vintage crap and Belgian-brewed sameness. Vive la différence!