A visit to the Asian Heritage Row in Kuala Lumpur turned out to be a disappointing rip-off. For the first time ever I was denied entry into a night spot (almost two) in Malaysia.
In hind sight, we should have ended our unbeatable night at Out of Africa when we left there, because from a great evening like that, it can only go down hill, and it did. But heavily psyched up and in a good mood from our good food and company at Out of Africa, or group headed over to the Asian Heritage Row, a strip of bars and night spots off Jalan Sultant Ismail in Kuala Lumpur – the current it-place where you will find fast cars, faster women and ugly guys with lots of money. Our group didn’t have any of these traits (and that’s not just sour grapes).
We drove in two cars so John, Julia and I found the rest in Bar Blonde. This bar had very little of anything: no bouncers, no decor, no customers (only 4 other people apart from us) and clearly no status, which, in hindsight, were probably the reasons we actually got in. The jugs of beer were RM49 each and as nothing was going on there, we moved on.
We next tried Heritage Mansion. By now it was 2am, but this place was still full of people. We walked into the attitude of what looked like a 14 year old door host when she said “are you on the list?” as we tried to walk in. “Have you checked it?” I asked, before somebody else in our party said “no, we’re not”.
Her eyes narrowed, ego towering over her 4 foot frame and said “that’s a RM50 cover charge for the guys and RM40 for the girls.” My eyes narrowed, cocked my head to look through the gate, assessed it to not be worth that, made eye contact with her and said “fuck no” and turned around to leave. It was no skin off her back as this is what she was hoping would happen.
Our little group was stunned to snubbed like that. We went back in the direction of Bar Blonde and went to Bar Savanh. The door host was equally young but with less attitude. Our little group cowered on the sidewalk, not wanting to be rejected again. I put on my negotiator’s hat and walked up to the chick.
She tried to pull what appeared to be a standard line on this strip. RM50 cover for guys and RM40 for girls. So I put my case that we were a group of 7 tourists, we were going to spend money on drink, is she willing to turn us away because she wants to charge us something she wouldn’t have if we arrived earlier? Apparently she was very willing to do just that.
After another few minutes of highlighting what she stood to gain from letting us in, another guy sitting in the shadows came over and said that sure, for ‘tonight only’ (who believes that shit, ass) he would let us in if we bought two jugs at the door. I agreed – they talked about the price, the door hostess shot her mouth by saying to the Shadow Man “RM45 per jug?”, and he quickly replied communicating with his eyes “er, no – happy hour is over”. So we ended up paying the rip-off price of RM57 per jug for two (no contest, I was happy to not be snubbed again) and we went in.
We didn’t stay too long and by the time our jugs were finished, so were we.
Later on would I learn from a friend who works at a hotel, but previously managed a bar, that once the bar makes their target for the day, they can be very selective about who they let in. This is in order to create a quality atmosphere for their “regular” clients who can easily spend RM1,000 each per night, rather than over-crowd the club with too many people, some of who might not actually spend that much money.
Of course, that is possible in a place like Kuala Lumpur where there are millions of customers and you can actually afford to turn away money – I’m used to Kota Kinabalu with it’s much smaller market where usually people are only too happy for customers, even if they only buy a pint.