Beware the forthcoming Blind Dragon, H.Wood Group’s much-anticipated concept slated for the old Chi Lin space off Sunset Blvd. Word first trickled out in May about the flip (which had an initial target date of August), but now comes word from H.Wood Group themselves about Blind Dragon’s impending arrival, plus one seriously surprising entertainment element.
In conversation with Eater, John Terzian of H.Wood Group and Wade Crescent (who is overseeing the Blind Dragon concept, as well as its music-focused side) spoke about what to expect from the new Sunset Strip digs.
How long has Blind Dragon been in development for H.Wood? Terzian: We’ve worked for a long time with Wade Crescent, music-wise. He has a very strong passion for the music and event world, which is why we’ve been trying to put a concept like this together for more than a year. We found the space probably six months ago, and have had everything start to come together in the last six months, so that we’re now starting construction.
Crescent: I’ve worked in nightlife for fifteen-odd years. I’ve opened spots, worked with some of the best operators in Paris, London, New York, Tokyo. So through traveling so much, I’ve got a pretty great cosmopolitan clientele. I’ve been in L.A. now for four years, and as you know there’s been such a great influx of people from all over the world, people picking up on the L.A. vibe and coming here. It’s almost like they’re catching the L.A. wave.
What we’re really trying to do is to find a place for everyone, for people who like going out and enjoying each others’ company. I wanted a place that’s a little fun, a little secretive. We’re not trying to sell crazy amounts of bottles at the door. Just, like, if you’re here, you belong here. And that’s something that’s sometimes lacking in the nightlife world.
What we do have as a secret weapon is that we’re going to do karaoke. It makes this a dream project for me, because I DJ for a living, I love all of that element, but karaoke is my biggest passion. We’re going to have three rooms, ten to twelve people in each room, then a bigger room that’ll be great for birthdays, release parties. I think you’ll be able to get 25 people in there.
So the main focus of Blind Dragon will be private room karaoke? Crescent: This whole concept comes from Japan. I’ve been so fortunate to spend some time there before I moved to L.A., and it’s just an amazing place. That’s when I got really into karaoke. Like going six days a week; I couldn’t get enough of it. This club I was working at had this little private booth upstairs, and so I’d DJ for a bit, then run upstairs and sing songs.
The people that I’ve met through karaoke, you just have this bond with them. You’ve sang these songs together, and it’s really amazing. It’s just such a different way to interact when you’re out. And we wanted to bring that to West Hollywood.
How big is the space going to be? Terzian: The square footage total, including the rooms, is around 2,800 square feet. There’s a central lounge that’s no karaoke, just a central space where we’ll have a few tables for people. We’re going to have pizza and dim sum as our featured food, and that’s on purpose, because we’re blending both of these worlds.
It’s going to be the kind of thing that brings people together. And no one’s really done it in this area. People drive to all parts of L.A. for that experience. For us, what we like about it, is that it’s a strong form of entertainment. Bring your own party, be in your own world, but also be out with everybody. If you don’t like karaoke, stay out in the lounge area. This is not a club version. It’s not a bottle service type thing.
Is bottle service element going to exist in some capacity? Terzian: We’re not really focusing on that. We’re planning on having some special versions of that, punch bowls, things like that.
Crescent: Yeah, we want to do like these little treasure chests with dry ice in them, things like that.
Terzian: The whole key is that it’s offering you a different form of entertainment.
It also sounds like a great way to keep people on site all night long. Terzian: That’s by design.
Crescent: Let’s say I’m booking a karaoke room from 12 to 2 a.m., I might have a few drinks beforehand to get in the mood. So you might have people coming earlier, or if I’m finishing my karaoke at 1 a.m., I might stay and dance out in the lounge, because now I’m all hyper. There’s no real reason to leave. But no, it’s not going to be a part of this club-to-club-to-club walk that people do.
Terzian: For better or worse. There’s a double-edged sword to that.
Below, a rendering of one of Blind Dragon's reservation-only karaoke rooms, and the layout of the nightclub overall.