We didn’t want to visit Elements. ‘It’s on Gongti West,’ we were told, which was more than enough to fill us with dread. Gongti clubs usually follow a similar template: small dance floor; bad sound system; worse music; dice; Chivas; ‘scenesters’ wanting to be seen – all that crap. Then someone showed us a US Embassy statement, which reported that one of its employees had been ‘repeatedly beaten and kicked in the head by individuals serving as bouncers’, adding that ‘the attack was unprovoked’. Now we really didn’t want to go.
Yet Elements was a pleasant surprise. Not only was there no aggression, but it was buzzing inside. The glass-fronted entrance may not entice, but it soon gives way to a steep staircase and lobby that mimic the ziggurat aesthetic pioneered by Spark
. It’s gratis for ladies and 100RMB for chaps, including two ‘free’ drinks (gin and tonic; rum and coke etc).
Once inside Element's cavernous basement space, well, that’s where the action begins, with a large international crowd getting messy with 50RMB cocktails. Yet while we’re literally underground, the soundtrack certainly isn’t, featuring generic beats and the likes of Bon Jovi and Carly Rae Jepsen twisted into dance tracks. Things that didn’t happen: fighting; unreasonable bouncers; fast service; innovative or inspiring music.
Things that did happen: people free-pouring spirits into their friends’ mouths straight from the bottle; the stripper’s pole being used; excitable partygoers who were young, dumb and full of fun. Elements has the feel of somewhere that’s become flavour of the month, a new place to party, which everyone rushes to check out – as, of course, happened with Chocolate
, Latte, Spark et al. You might as well join them while it lasts.