Space la nouba featured in BUILDING Trinidad & Tobago Magazine.

THE FINAL FRONTIER

By Robert Clarke

 

The Article as written : Space la nouba October/December 2008

When nightclub owner Bunny Persad approached designer Brian Mac Farlane to craft the interior of a spaceship-themed nightclub, Mac Farlane hesitated. "I said, 'it sounds kind of 70's.' That was the challenge then - to take a dated concept and make it new." It's Saturday night and Persad is sitting inside Space la nouba's prep-room. This is the performers' suite - where the artistes chill before a concert. It's all shiny metal and curvy Art Deco-inspired furniture. Over the thumping music, Persad talks about wooing Mac Farlane, the design diva and head of MacFarlane's Design Studios, best known for his 'mas.

Space is intimidating with its perforated stainless steel, metal tubes, chrome railings and reflective sheet metal; but then there are the lights. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) illuminate padded benches and paneled walls - orange, purple, blue - electro-luminescence that's far too friendly to be ominous. The lights, say architecture Michael Lee Poy who was sub-contracted by Mac Farlane for the two year muti-million dollar job, can change the atmosphere. They're run by computer program and are in constant flux. In Space, says Mac Farlane, they're being used to give the club "a futuristic twist." In a way, they help the club escape that sense of visual deja vu.

Space la nouba landed La Romaine in June 2007. Persad built the exterior of "the flying saucer sitting on a stand" before calling for help inside. "The trend of the world is concept clubs," says the 48-year-old club owner who is nearing two decades in the business. "That is how the world was going, and you have to go. If you don't go with the world, you'll be left behind."

Persad started takjing with the architect back in 2002. A figure of $2 million was politely pushed across the table. That turned out to be a joke. By the time construction began in 2004, the Italian lighting system alone would almost devour it. Persad slips all questions about the final cost. "Working with Brian Mac Farlane, you know you have to spend a lot of money," he says, "but every time ge makes you spend more, you like what you get, so you say, 'Okay, I'll take that.' At the end of itm the results is what you want."

Space boasts an extracation system capable of changing the air in the club every hour. Persad is tonight awaiting the techno and trance of Spain's DJ Sammy. The standby generator has a fuel capacity that would allow the club to run for five days off the T&TEC grid. And the club also has an international kitchen for weddings and cocktail parties - business that's turned out to be lucrative.

These are impressive details, but the women like the bathrooms. Persad's mandate to the architects was: once you go into the female bathroom you shouldn't want to leave. Says architect Lee Poy, who now runs the architectural firm Atelier LeePoy: "It had to be whimsical and fun." (In the unisex bathroom upstairs, at least one toilet seat is pink. You wonder what the aliens must think.)

Indeed, the women are lounging in the salle-de-bain tonight, sipping drinks on the curved couches below the futuristic protuberance dangling from the ceiling. The room is soft compared to the hard interior of the main dance club - a respite from harsh scrutiny - alien and otherwise. "It's a place to talk about what people are wearing, or their boyfriends, or whatever." says Mac Farlane.

That leads us to a little secret. Bunny Persad is a 'trekkie', a fan of the Star Trek universe. At least, so say Mac Farlane and Lee Poy. For the two to get invested in Persad's vision of Space, the turned to Hollywood. Lee Poy says he watched a dozen sci-fi flicks, often fast-forwarding to the spacecraft. Mac Farlane bought books and Star Trek movies. Lee Poy found that the prevading materials were metallic and plastic. But he also realized that the spacecraft should be reginal - a New York UFO differing markedly from one in La Romaine. In both places, howver, VIP lounges are paramount. Space la nouba's (the French phrase 'faire la nouba' means to live it up, or party) champagne room overlooks the dance floor where local 20-somethings are jumping to DJ Sammy's Euro-trance. The furniture here is all Jetson-cartoon, the sliding entry door (where you expect to hear a hydraulic hiss) is pure Star Trek space deck. Persad says Space really kicked off in January 2008, and this 'summer' saw long lines of party goers waiting to enter the tunnel that leads to the cavernous dance floor. Persad acknowledges that the theme concept might change in the next five years and he'll have to evolve. In fact, the club has already evolved. According to Lee Poy, Persad is already challenging and updating his club. The are to the side of the bar has been opened up like a flight deck.

For now, the club is flying high, under the gaze of the monstrous escapee alien who rules the dance floor: "A bit of Carnival" in a space-club that is uniquely 21st century Trinidad.