Stepping into the Upstairs Beresford is like stumbling upon a secret disco inferno you weren’t quite ready for.
The Upstairs Beresford is certainly a world apart from the main bar downstairs, which on a Friday night you'll find jammed up with after-workers and glammed up 'somebodys' kicking off their weekend: a gaping maze of bars, plants, and food. Instead, pitch yourself down the alley to a discrete door. Winding dark stairs and neon orange arrows lead you up to a glowing amber pocket of glitz, the decadence of a bygone era.
To the left, a sizeable stage meets the first of two bars, where sticky passionfruit cocktails are being taken up with earnest. A small dancefloor area gives way to an island of seats and tables that dominates the room. Groups huddle in close, shouting to be heard over the din. The scene is reminiscent of the Babylon Club in Scarface. Indeed, the walls are plastered with grainy black-and-whites of Mr John and the original Merivale, old '70s characters who eyeball from the photos: a homage to Hemmes' heritage. Further down the back is a cushy lounge area for wheelings, dealings and naughty nocturnal dalliances.
The soulful tones of Mahalia Barnes give the sound system its first workout and it seems up to the task, the bass throbbing loud and strong throughout the room. However, most people barely even look up. Whether it's a symptom of the launch or the setup of the room, this will be Upstairs Beresford's biggest hurdle. While as a bar it looks set to be a success, its distinct glam cocktail hour atmosphere seems at odds with rough-and-tumble rock gigs and dirty dance nights. It'll be interesting to see how the Upstairs Beresford translates into a legitimate live music venue.