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[Radar]: Le Baron

Hey look, some French people brought their exclusive club for cool cool fashion people to Shanghai. Here's a fuzzy look inside.
Last updated: 2015-11-09
Note: This venue would not allow us to come in and take photos for a Radar, because their shareholders want the club featured in publications like Vogue first. In fact, Le Baron prefers to provide their own pictures and do a final edit on media pieces. Thus, these iPhone shots are not up to our usual photo standards for Radar pieces.

Area: Donghu Lu. Right next to Elefante, and a few doors down from the TURN DOWN FOR WHAT-ness of Monkey Champagne. Diva, Lune, and Craft are all within stumbling distance. Look out for those lovable street characters Monkey Man II, Super Flower Ayi, and Kung Fu Gandalf Hobo -- they're also known to frequent this hood.

What It Is: Not to be confused with the popular Chrysler LeBaron convertible, Le Baron is a French nightclub by Swedish-Portuguese grafitti artist turned nightlife baron André Saraiva, who used to be married to Uffie. His club also has outposts in London, New York City, and Tokyo.

Basically, you've got a low-key, mid-sized club with a strict door policy on the 7th floor of an old building. In other cities, their client base is fashionistas, musicians, and artists. While there is no cover charge, the elevator on the first floor is roped off, with a bouncer standing there to decide who gets in, based on what we presume is coolness and sense of fashion. This is a club that does not want publicity or media coverage for fear that "the whole town will show up." A place where cool people can go to be with other cool people. It's like a cool club! Lulz….Nice to finally have a club where you can talk to anyone there without fear that they might be a loser, because a bouncer has weeded those people out.

Atmosphere: Grown and sexy, and not unlike a combination of Logo and Cirque Le Soir, minus the freaks. Decor is simple and low-key. Low ceilings. No VIP booths, although they have a top floor and a terrace we didn't get to see. Maybe some VIP action there. The semi-transparent mirrors are the coolest feature here. You'll find one of Andrés "Mr. A" characters on the wall. The dance floor sits right in the middle of the place and thankfully no tables appear there. On the walls and carpets, you'll find a illustrated motif of "pussies and sperms," as their staff politely described it to my lady. Wonder how long it will take until some Zhong Nan Hai burns show up on those carpets. For now, they don't do champagne trains or sparkler showers or any of that lavish shit. It's like, understated classiness mannnnnnnnn.

Music Policy: Music and sound are solid. No EDM, no Top 40. When we stopped by they were playing Barry White mixed with some slow house jams. Residents at the moment are the lovely El'se from Bar Rouge/Acid Pony Club/S.T.D. plus some resident DJs from Le Baron in Paris. Remember how well flying in resident DJs from Europe worked out for KTV?

Damage: For cocktails, you're looking at 80–100rmb for their twists on classics. The Rum Old Fashioned was great, but the 100rmb strawberry Champagne cocktail tasted like something I'd drink for free at the CityWeekend awards. The other drinks had way too much ice for the price, but hey maybe it's Evian ice. For bottles, you're still looking at a somewhat affordable price of 1200rmb for Jack Daniels. They do some expensive packages for the ballers too, and give discounts if you buy beers/Red Bulls/whatever by the four. Beers are 60-70rmb.

Who's Going: For now, people "in-the-know", people who want to be seen, people who don't mind standing in a line to have their outfit scrutinized, fashionistas, French people, Italians…When we stopped by on a Tuesday night, Alexander Wang and Just Blaze came by after a fashion show. They've expressed that the club is open to "friends and family" at the moment but that others may be able to get in if they look fabulous.

Not sure if this concept can work in Shanghai. For now, there is no other club like this in town. It's exclusive but not ostentatious, and local customers who spend big money at clubs tend to prefer full-on clubbing experiences. China's fashion crowd is not so wild and depraved like in America and Europe. That leaves us with the cool, well-heeled locals who tend to frequent places like Arcade, jet-setters, and wealthier foreigners who drop coin at places like Lola. As mentioned in our recent feature on Lola, there are less and less of the latter in Shanghai. Sure they've pulled in some big customers in the first few weeks, but fashionistas tend to gravitate toward the latest, hippest spots. Only time will tell if Le Baron's concept will prove successful, if they switch up their concept a la Cirque Le Soir, or they become just another Snatch club.