There's a dragon that lives up the stairs of an aging Chinatown walk-up. The building's been there for quite some time, but the dragon itself is still fairly new to the Honolulu arts and culture district.
Upstairs, he lives in a realm of sultry jazz and smoky piano tunes. Hipsters and middle-aged jazz fiends go to him for enlightenment, finding comfort in his golden aura. He is The Dragon Upstairs.
If you've ever been to this snazzy nightclub on Nu‘uanu Avenue, you'd recognize the detailed dragon mural along the staircase. Its scaly tail leads to a blood-red room of more elaborate artwork. But it's what you hear that can best define this place. Loungey – almost lustful – jazz melodies swelter through the room every night of the week.
The best jazz musicians and singers in town have found a home at The Dragon Upstairs; even the up-and-comings. I recently watched a performance by a university jazz ensemble, who brought the room to life with every elaborate measure – almost as if awakening the dragon from his peaceful slumber.
VIDEO: The University of Hawai‘i jazz ensemble performs at The Dragon Upstairs.
On most weekend nights, the place is a packed, standing-room-only affair. A dimly-lit bar greets guests as they walk up the staircase and find a seat at one of the raised cocktail tables. The usual loud chatter comes to a subtle hush, as The Dragon awakens once again.
THE DRAGON UPSTAIRS / 1038 Nu‘uanu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96817 (Map) / 808-526-1411 / www.thedragonupstairs.com
March 22nd, 2013