We're not ones to rave meaninglessly about an event, but tonight we're just spellbound by the hospitality and the planning of the Peninsula Manila team for the opening party of the Salon de Ning Bar and Lounge earlier.
This was certainly one fabulous party to launch an incredible -- and incredibly designed -- venue for drinking, dancing and smoking.
In a life that involves going out somewhere approximately 350 nights out of 365 nights in a year, I can't even recall when was the last time I'd been to such a tasteful, stylish and elegant launch party that was also just amazingly fun.
Hands coming out of nowhere
The evening offered an opportunity for a different kind of trip for us at Travelife Magazine -- a trip back in time to old Shanghai, to the fabulous home and enviable life of the highly-cultured Madame Ning. It began at 7 pm and we arrived at around half-past, amazed to see a wall of black cloth draped around half the lobby.
"Wow, I've never seen the Peninsula lobby like this before," my friend, who I'll call X, said, as we walked around it and entered the corridor leading to the main venue.
Midway, somewhere in front of a fluffy pink dress, about half a dozen arms suddenly appeared out of the black wall offering us glasses of Moet, which we happily took.
It was a nice touch, foretelling even better things to come.
"What an interesting way to start the party," I said and X agreed.
And with the bubblies arriving in such a fun fashion from the outset, we were psyched for the rest of the night.
Caviar and oysters unlimited
The party was under way in full swing when we walked in.
Everywhere I looked where famous faces of all ages; while even the not-too-famous were fabulously dressed, and it was quite a spectacle to see over hundreds people dressed-to-the-nines and partying away under the aura of Salon de Ning purple.
In the main open lounge there was a bar in the center that was giving away flutes of champagne as fast as they could be poured, while along the sides were long tables decorated with ice sculptures holding photos of the Salon de Ning and laden with all kinds of goodies.
By lucky coincidence, we found ourselves gravitating to the oyster and caviar bar, where Russian oysters and different kinds of caviar where set up. The caviar choices came in all sizes and I had double servings of everything to lay the foundation for the gallons of champagne and cocktails that would come later.
Meanwhile, X seemed to enjoy immensely the oysters and the salmon tartare.
GREAT MUSIC EVERYWHERE
Then the music started and we didn't know where to head first.
There was a great band playing Big Band music and oldies outside and another band playing 70s and 80s music inside. They also had a German-American-Filipino singer crooning chill-out lounge music and then later Bea Tantoco and her band came on for some more contemporary music at around midnight.
Anyway, we entered the Salon proper at exactly the time that a band was playing the kind of 80s songs I liked, so we decided to stay inside since we liked this better.
Lychee martinis and champagne all night
Besides, the open bar was serving champagne and all kinds of cocktails.
After numerous glasses of champagne we decided to try the cocktails. X had the Ning Sling while I had the lychee martini, which was just delicious.
After X took a sip of my lychee martini and ordered another one as well, we never looked back. It became an evening of one lychee martini after another, only sometimes interpsersed with champagne and the occasional crushed ice.
The free-flowing drinks certainly made everyone happy and lively.
At first everyone was content just to listen to the music; but it wasn't long before the entire Salon de Ning was just alive with people of all generations dancing with passion. I hadn't seen so many generations of Manila society on the dance floor in a long time.
Usually, one generation gets turned off when the other generations like to dance because everyone's music is so different. Tonight, however, everyone -- literally everyone -- was on the dance floor, if not dancing by the bar or even by the small space at the entrance.
Sometime after midnight, in the very few minutes that we weren't on the dance floor, Jonathan Crook, the Peninsula GM came over and asked me: "Are you having fun?" He knew the answer but I replied anyway. And I couldn't help smiling as I said, "Way too much fun."
Several bands came and went and even two DJs, before the dance floor finally quieted down. And that was at about 3 AM.
Tapsilog at 3 AMBy then, we'd danced and drank enough for a lifetime, and it was time for more filling nourishment.
We hied off to the other side of the lobby for big plates of Philippine breakfasts: daing na bangus and tapa with garlic rice, fried egg and atchara. It was the perfect end to a perfect evening. Even Madame Ning herself would have been pleased at exactly how beautifully everything went.
Salon de Ning will certainly become one of the hottest and most talked-about after-hours venues in Manila. And I'll definitely remember this evening for a very long time.
Go and see what all the fuss is about for yourself. It's officially open from tonight, Saturday!
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