Toots, a secret nightclub bar and dance club, opens this month “somewhere in Chinatown”
For such a media-savvy operator as serial publican Clint Nolan, he gives little on his latest project, a secret, password-protected bar and restaurant hiding in plain sight somewhere in Northbridge. Which is precisely the point.
“It’s all about a mystery right now,” says the man behind places like Alabama Song, Joe’s Juice Joint and Henry Summer. “I love going to foreign cities, trying to find bars in the alleys and knocking on doors. I just think it’s the best. And when you do [find one], you feel like this is your bar and you tell your friends that you found this place and you own it and claim it. I want the people of Perth to have it too.
Here’s what we know so far. The bar, Toots, will be a love letter to 70s disco glam and will be dressed accordingly. (Nolan: “There will be a lot of gold, a lot of glitter and a lot of disco balls.”). He’ll be hidden in another bar somewhere in Northbridge Chinatown. (At this point, social media speculators are describing Sneaky Tony’s as, at the very least, someone of interest in investigations). Customers wishing to enter Toots will need to ask the correct bartender, “Did Toots come in?” And cross their fingers.
Once inside, discogoers can expect tunes suitable for dance floors from artists such as Gloria Gaynor, Grace Jones and Earth, Wind & Fire. There is a similar retro trend in eating and drinking. Nolan describes the menu as Australian-Italian, with raw tuna, chorizo bocadillo and mortadella rolls among the snacks on offer. Drinkers languishing in creamy cocktails from the ’70s and’ 80s will have plenty to celebrate. Toots’ drink menu is decidedly old school, with throwbacks such as Midori Illusion Shakers, Fruit Tingles, and tweaked White Russians. A selection of similar vintage shots, including B-52s and Buttery Nipples, will also be available. Earlier in the evening, the space for 80 people will be set up with tables which, as the night progresses, are cleared to create a dance floor.
Toots, for sure, is a bar that wants to have fun. And while there is a certain hedonistic quality to his new venture, Nolan hopes his low-key pre-opening approach will help pique drinkers’ curiosity.
“[The location] won’t be a secret for long, but we’ll try, ”says Nolan. “It’s just great to see people chatting and joking online and being excited to go on the weekend looking for a mystery bar. In today [social-media driven] age, when everything is so transparent and transparent, it is very rare that anything is a mystery.
Toots opens from April 22 and will be open from 6 p.m. until late Thursday through Saturday.