As soon as I heard about the members-only aspect of this new club, I was determined to retain a stoic distance from proceedings and withhold judgment to a later date. My initial contact came, having missed the opening night, as an email to my work address saying something along the lines of "Dear Miss Rowe, Congratulations! You are one of a very very very select number of Shanghai's very very special people, and have been invited to be a founding member amongst our very select and very special cohort of exclusive members" Hmm, I thought, not reading anything about the purported 10,000rmb joining fee and being on one hand slightly flattered, and on the another, slightly perturbed. Wasn't it Groucho Marx who said "I'd never want to be a member of any club that would have me"? Alas, I was awakened from my ego massage by a metaphorical workers drill, when I received, a day later, another email, this time to my personal address asking the very very special Miss Caroline to become a very very exclusive member of Volar's secret and special and ever-so-exclusive club. And this not two weeks after opening ... whoops, me thought, I smell another Yongfu
So I went down to the exclusive club with a group of equally exclusive Italian-Los Angeles types, all sports lawyers and "really? Carlo is dating that chick from the OC?". Eager to impress, I texted ahead (now how an exclusive club could be texting me about DJ's, I had no idea) and booked one of those purportedly 5,000rmb tables. So we rocked up, hopped out of the taxi, my Italians looking dapper in Dolce et Gabanna and myself attempting that "hey amigo, I'm on the guestlist" facial expression, and I went to sidle coolly to the front of the queue.
There was no queue.
Cool factor immediately diminished, I pointed out to them that the time was probably too early, or too late, or both, and went to have a word with the girl on the door.
Caroline: "Hi. I have a table"
Doorgirl: "What's it under?"
Enter stage right two girls in parka anoraks clutching plastic cups full of takeaway 24 hr store mystery meat and mystery juice.
Doorgirl to Caroline: "Hang on"
Mystery meat girls to Doorgirl: "Oh, is this, some sort of an, um, club, or something?"
Caroline to Doorgirl: (slightly embarrassed, as Italians argue about football impatiently) "Um, I'm a member"
Doorgirl to mystery meat girls: "Yes it's a club"
Caroline: "I'm a member twice actually"
Mystery meat girls to Doorgirl: "Oh? A private, um, party?"
Doorgirl to Mystery meat girls: "Yes, yes, a private party. Please go on in" now (turning to Caroline) "do you have a reservation number, I can't find you anywhere"
So I was left, the Italians heatedly discussing someone's left foot, me waving my "I swear, I booked just half an hour ago" text message in the air, as the girls with the mystery meat sheepishly sauntered into the hottest, most exclusive members club in the land.