The concept is to inspire people to be creative and create good, memorable memories when they visit
by DASHVEENJIT KAUR & LYDIA NATHAN/ pic by ARIF KARTONO
A RATHER nondescript area in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur, not far from the Pasar Seni train station, is the spooky setting for a bar called The Deceased. Chances are, even if you try your best to locate it, you might not be able to find it.
There’s just no sign. The façade, an artfully casual assemblage of old wooden door, gives the place a boarded-up, abandoned look. But that’s it.
Once you spot it, you still need to key in the password (getting it is also another process) for the doors to open.
Then, you’d have to ascend a long flight of stairs to make your way into the bar. You might (or might not) be greeted by ghoulish doormen, but the hallway itself is enough to give you the chills. The Taoist-talisman-wrapped bulbs can’t go unnoticed.
Accompanying your every movement is the Ghost Bride Prelude, the soundtrack from an infamous Hong Kong horror movie, Rigor Mortis.
The Deceased is one of a handful of other speakeasy bars that have recently made it to the hipsters’ list in the city.
For the uninitiated, the “speakeasy” is the biggest trend in nightlife and bars over the last decade. These nightspots mimic the illicit, hidden bars that arose during the 1920s Prohibition Era in the US.
The Deceased is perched on the rooftop of Mingle backpackers’ hostel. Its decor is rather “other-worldly” with bare brick walls that are enhanced by the exposed timber and steel beams.
Behind the bar itself, is a wall of vintage Chinese herbal medicine apothecary cabinets, which showcase a collection of spirits — literally in the concoction and figuratively in figurines.
With the skeletal assembles that surround the bar and equally eerie lighting, the bar surely is a place for those who would like to get in touch with their sinister desires.
The Deceased opened its doors in 2016 as just a cocktail bar with a spooky entrance. It somehow gradually developed into a ghostly cocktail bar.
The outlet even has a leafy alfresco bar outdoor, decked out with communal tables that encourage socialising, almost wiping off the eerie façade.
Curious? Well, the reservation process requires you to book a seat via Facebook — preferably days, even weeks, in advance, if you’re looking to come in on a Friday or Saturday.
No walk-ins are allowed, as you will need a six-digit access code given only when your reservation is confirmed by an unnamed social media administrator.
Bar manager Steven Yap Kang Li said the design, decoration and whole concept was never meant to frighten people but to showcase creativity and help start conversations.
Yap said the area was a melting pot of cultures that seem to go well with the backpackers’ hostels right beside it.
“What’s unique about us is, the food and drink menus have interesting names and they prompt our customers to ask questions. We tell them stories, both fact and fiction, and get them chatting which is the purpose. The bar is designed to provide a fun, happy atmosphere,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.
Ironically, while the bar seems to highlight superstitions surrounding death, Yap said the majority come to The Deceased to celebrate birthdays.
“Some people are of the opinion that anything can happen anytime so they want to celebrate,” he said.
Themed Food & Drink
Yap said the bar follows a theme that is incorporated into the food and drinks and is likely to change every three months.
Among the best-selling items are Petty Person Beating, and Toyol which is served in a baby’s milk bottle. Yap said the club’s days are Fridays and Saturdays.
“At one point we had about 300 people in, and we had to turn them away. It is not our objective but it also hinders the way we relate and communicate with each customer,” he added.
Additionally, the food is also an attraction with its thematic, eerily stationed props that are served together with the meal.
Yap said the month of June featured four exclusive dishes which included The Last Meal, Nachos Head, Dying of Hunger and Bruschetta Skeleton.
“The best-selling item is The Last Meal, inspired by a prisoner who is on death row. The other dishes are presented with scary-looking skulls to enhance the experience,” he said.
Yap said they welcome feedback from customers and are constantly on the lookout for newer, more interesting superstitious ideas to toy with.
Meanwhile, Yap said the team is looking at exploring superstitions and ghost characters from the Indian and Malay cultures, which could inspire new menus.
“The next immediate theme will be the Hungry Ghost Festival, and we will look into some exclusive food and beverage for it,” he added.
The team is also in the process of discussing holding a charity event which is yet to be finalised.
Yap said overall the concept is to inspire people to be creative and create good memorable memories when they visit.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase of people since we opened, it has been busy and it’s great. I believe when people have a good time and are able to recall fond memories, we’ve done our job at providing the fun atmosphere,” Yap said.