Gemmayzeh has established itself as Lebanon’s nightlife district. Monot used to be. Hamra is struggling to prove itself. Jounieh is trying to resurrect its flatline. Batroun and Jbeil show seasonal promise. However, it seems that the country’s biggest and best projects, are still under construction, and in an area that you’d expect Bernard Khoury to secretly worship and light candles to.
The “Citymall” seaside area is well-known to most Lebanese who commute to Beirut. We use it to escape that crippling traffic on the inner highway, only to get stuck in even worse traffic there. But while at a standstill in roaring engines and noxious fumes, we admire the mostly abandoned industrial buildings. From salt refineries, to abandoned commercial shipping piers, this region has suffered severe neglect and desertion thanks to Lebanon’s tough history. Today, it houses the main (and evil) oil importers, the notorious garbage Mount Everest and of course, Citymall.
However, with confirmation that White Club will now be moving venues from the Annahar building in Beirut, to that Citymall seaside area, and changing names from White to Pure White (yup, I know, mind-blowingly creative). The existing White venue will be transformed into an early-bird alcohol-oriented lounge, with laid-back music and good food and drinks fit for expensive bird-watching and sunsets. The new pure white venue will make Bernard Khoury weep, outdoing him in terms of cheap, neglected areas becoming iconic nightlife hubs (like the world’s #40 club, B018).
Speaking of Bernard Khoury, Pier7, another mega-club and entertainment project confirmed to be in the Citymall area, was supposed to be much closer to Beirut: the Port. Many of you will notice the Lebanese Industrialists Association building, clearly visible from the Charles Helou Avenue. You might also notice it is somewhat decapitated, with clear signs of demolition on its roof. That’s because it was supposed to be the “largest nightclub of the Levant” according to Bernard’s website. This project was aborted though, and the symbolic 90s building, that was abandoned, would’ve been the perfect sequel to the Karantina situated B018. Here’s what it would’ve looked like:
I think it’s beautiful, groundbreaking and with the minimalistic sexiness that is often associated with Bernard’s designs.
But after being aborted by Bernard Khoury in 2009, “Blankpage Architects” took over the new Pier7 project, which was also an open-air nightclub, coupled with a luxurious beach-resort. Today, this is what the new Pier7 will look like, in the summer of 2011. I cannot help but notice the resemblance between it and Sky Bar, adding nothing new at ground-level (in terms of the club). It might be bigger, newer, more awesome. The “raised car display” looks promising though. The “lobby”, not so much.
The new venue looks superb, and you can go construction-watching on the seaside yourselves, it’s directly next to the large Total gas station. I am skeptical though, for the smell of raw sewage is not uncommon there, and I wouldn’t want to finish my cocktail with that wafting smell, neither sunbathe for that matter.
Apart from Pure White and Pier7, a club whose name has not been disclosed to me yet, is set to open literally a meters away. This sprouting of 3 major, international club venues in such close proximity, simultaneously, will be interesting to follow. Pure White and Pier7 will be mainly seasonal, but the third club is indoors, and will supposedly operate once a week, all year-round.
Reasons for this migration are not clear, but I’d put my money on
- Cheaper land and rent
- Less traffic, easier access
- More stable than volatile Beirut, where one burning tire or sectarian slur cripples the nightlife sector there
I’m trying to get you more pictures and info on the third club, but till then, ENJOY…
…and here they are, as promised! Photos of the probable Pure White venue, the direction of the new unknown club, and the progress in Pier7′s construction as of May 3, 2011