Bushwick’s newest hot spot has a goal of transporting visitors to a floating world where the jazz age meets the techno dancefloor, in a space that brings to mind movies like Shanghai Triad and the John Wick series.

The Red Pavilion opened last month and doubles as a Chinese teahouse & apothecary by day and a neo-noir nightclub by night. On a recent Friday night, the club was filled to the brim with people from all walks of life, all there to take a room filled with things thoughtfully curated by the Shanghai-born Zoey Gong and Orson Salicetti, the bar’s mixologist. 

The space is the brainchild of the nightlife impresario, Shien Lee, who runs it through her event production company Dances of Vice. Both Lee and Gong identify as queer and Lee told me that a desire to market to the local queer, BIPOC, and AAPI community was what brought them together.

 “Admittedly, I was pushed to pursue this even more after I experienced a hate crime during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Lee, who declined to comment further on what happened, but said that it made her want “to create a space that felt safe and less segregated.”

At Red Pavilion, the show (above) is often best enjoyed with a meal, like shrimp dumplings topped with mustard seeds (left) or a cold savory mushroom and tofu curd porridge (right).

On Sundays, the teahouse-slash-nightclub transforms yet again with a dim sum brunch menu that Gong has put together and has called “Cha Cha Yum Cha.” If you stick around, you can catch Lee’s 1960s-themed tropicana dance party (promising salsa, mambo, cha-cha and boogaloo classics) that takes place from 4-7pm. 

Drinks on Salicetti’s menu are various — including everything from Red Dragons to something called “the Classic” — but expensive. For nondrinkers, there’s a handful of mocktails like the CBD-infused  “Sunny Side” or the un-infused “Mystical.”

“I put my life savings into this, ”Lee told me when I asked her. “It’s the most rewarding thing for me when I have other young Asians come up to me and tell me they feel so seen and like they belong here,” she added. At one point, Gong directed my attention to an 80 year old prep-chef who had helped the bar open. 

“All of our talent is local… [she] is an 80-year-old Chinese auntie who helps us tremendously”, said Gong. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll be serenaded by Lee’s own vocal prowess, as she takes to belting out old Chinese love songs, which she sings underneath an old proverb, written in bright neon, and that recommends “drinking tea with friends and consorting with prostitutes.”  

The Red Pavilion is located at 1241 Flushing Avenue, a few blocks away from the Jefferson L station. It’s open Monday, Thursday, Friday, and the weekend. For more information visit their website or follow them on Instagram

Images taken by Tiffany Cordero for Bushwick Daily.

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