The TGI Friday’s sidestreet – Wall Street
A major charm of an international entertainment district is people watching, the chance to come across groups from a completely different station in life than yourself. And not only that, but relatively unexpectedly. This opportunity presents itself in Roppongi too, but as with nearly every bar and club around the world, it’s easy to get a fair idea of who the bar caters too. The biggest exception to this rule was the old Wall Street across the road from TGI Friday’s.
This was a place where anything goes, and anything comes. Say what you want about this bar, and yes, there was quite a bit to say, but it resisted having a “usual” demographic better than any bar I can remember anywhere. Come in one night and the busy crowd will be majority westerners. Come in the next, and it would be also busy but you’d be the only westerner in there. About the only guarantee you had was that there would be ladyboys preening and dancing in front of the mirrors adjacent to the bar.
The difference also wasn’t in the number of nationalities, it was also as free from income, and source of income boundaries despite it’s name. So you could have very well paid expat 1%er in one group and youngsters shuffled over here from the third world to do the manual and factory work the Japanese have long since shunned drinking in the next. And everything in between.
Of course you had the staple demographics of any foreign-friendly nightlife area in Asia, starting of course with the ageing, cashed up western professional male expats and those who feed off them; the Eastern European, South-East Asian, Chinese and African ladies with various kinds of interesting work, the aforementioned ladyboys and West Africans males, who here at least tend to be club owners and touts. On a slightly less moneyed, though hardly less primal plane are the US servicemen and English teachers. And of course there’s a healthy smattering of locals, from local girls looking to dance the night away or to go international, or local businessmen with a thing for foreign chicks, notably the aforementioned ex-Warsaw Pact country hostesses.
Then you had members of other international groups you would be likely to see if you popped your head in enough that could be guaranteed to pop their head in; from embassy staff or varying nations, (genuine) European models of both genders, Turkish guys, Iranian guys, Israeli guys over here doing some kind of business, Filipina factory and warehouse and retail workers, Brazilian and South American guys working behind the bars and at other clubs, Brazilian and South American hostesses and dancers, Indian guys working IT and fast food, and last but certainly not least, Chinese and Korean students, and from time to time small groups of rugby players over from New Zealand. Most of these groups were more likely to show up at other places, but all of them would show up here.
And while it was a lotto in terms of which groups would call in on any given name, there were a few things that you could bank on. For starters, such an unusually mixed crowd could never have been marked down as boring, or stultifying like most bars become over time. This also presented interesting dynamics when the alcohol further blurred the boundaries. If a group of lads made the adventure into Roppongi next week, and they were calling into Wall Street at some point in the night, you could guarantee there’d be a tale or two the next day. Not always good ones mind you, but stories all the same.
The variety also provided strength in numbers. It was something of a banker in terms of guaranteeing at least something of a crowd when everywhere else seemed dead midweek.
Then that all changed a little when the original bar had to shut down.
It has reopened a few doors down the street, in a multi story venue for a few years now. And while they were able to continue to draw in decent crowds on Friday and Saturday night, and continued to run well attended parties, some of its mojo was lost in the move. It was now possible for an midweek evening to be dead, utterly so, in the main Wall Street, which no-one I knew had ever seen happen at the original.
That said the new venues now old enough to be getting back what the old place had, with the random weeknights are showing signs of returning. I was here a month ago after deciding I could take a taxi rather than last train home, and it had quite a sizable and varied crowd, and a mate reported the same just a couple of weeks ago. meanwhile one of my better friends, from the UK, nearly had a Turkish or Iranian guy (he wasn’t sure which) try and knock seven bells out of him for asking his wife about her female friend, who was a Romanian girl. They were separated by a male security staff (from South America he believed although he was too smashed to tell) also from a non-western country and ushered away (despite its reputation I have found most of the male staff here to be quite friendly and helpful, perhaps being less than affluent helps perhaps) In how many bars in the world is this possible?
Who ought to drink here? Don’t expect to find the love of your life here but Wall Street again appears a good option again for the people watching aspect. Come here on a party night or when your preferred bar or club isn’t working and you want something interesting.