Hong Kong's teenage nightclub guru

Hong Kong's teenage nightclub guru

Rachel Geicke is about to start work at Likuid in Lan Kwai Fong, and she's only just able to drink legally
rachel geicke likuid
Rachel Geicke: If Van Wilder were ambitious and female.

It’s a cold weekday afternoon and Rachel Geicke is standing in the middle of a construction site at the top of Lan Kwai Fong, explaining the layout of the brand new club.

Wearing a light gray blazer, jeans and practical shoes, her whip-straight brown hair tucked behind her ears, Geicke is the image of confidence and professionalism. Not what you’d expect from a Hong Kong teenager.

At just 18 years old, Geicke is both the creator and managing director of Likuid, a 2,000-square-foot nightclub located in the old Tuscany by H restaurant space in Lan Kwai Fong.

At a time when Hong Kong’s nightlife is moving away from the LKF strip and up towards SoHo and Sheung Wan, the young and ambitious Geicke hopes to draw people’s attention back down the hill with “something a little more crazy."

“I feel like the top clubs are all doing the same thing,” Geicke says.

“You see the same people, you hear the same songs, sometimes even the same DJ who will move from club to club with the same set. Every weekend when you go out you know what it’s going to be like and how your night’s going to end.”

Prodigious clubber

Geicke believed early on that her future career would be in nightlife. She started clubbing in Hong Kong at the age of 13.

A natural party spirit coupled with a precocious flair for marketing and event management led the Hong Kong International School student to start throwing parties around town for her classmates, using middle-range venues such as LaKage, Home and the now-defunct Ashtray.  

I was lucky because I only ever had one raid. — Rachel Geicke on organizing open-bar parties for teenagers.

“The problem is if you don’t look old enough or you don’t have the right connections, when you try and party in high school you are very limited,” she observes earnestly. “

People needed a place where everyone could get in and they could all party together. People were thrilled with my parties, which were always full.”

Geicke started in her junior year in high school to organized monthly open-bar events for 15- to 19 year-olds from across Hong Kong’s privileged international school set. She remains unfazed by the legal dilemma this posed.

“I was lucky because I only ever had one raid. The police were targeting another club and came to the wrong floor of the building."

She calls the experience of planning large parties on her own as a “great learning curve."

Her school work, she claims, didn’t suffer as a result. Geicke graduated successfully in the summer of 2010, and took an internship with Bonvivant and Bellavita (BV and BV), a luxury PR and events company founded and run by sisters Reyna Harilela and Shirley Hiranand. She worked on dragon-i’s weekly ‘Blame it on Thursday’ event, which is managed by BV and BV.

During her stint at dragon-i, Geicke caught the eye of socialite owner Gilbert Yeung, who offered her a full-time marketing position at the club. At the meeting, Yeung told Geicke she reminded him of his ambitious younger self.

“I was totally flattered and taken aback,” she recalls, grinning. “Gilbert is a legend in Hong Kong and he’s obviously done everything right with his projects.”

She reveals that dragon-i is her favorite “playground."  

With her dream job on the table, Geicke discovered through a friend that the Tuscany by H space was up for sale. At a viewing of the site, her father -- who was one of the founding partners of Lan Kwai Fong icon 1997 -- joked that she could open a club there. The idea stuck.

Through her family’s network, Geicke approached a group of local and overseas investors.

“Once I had presented my vision, they basically said I should become the managing director and they would keep funding it," she said.

So here she is, five months later, 18 years old and launching a nightclub. She is optimistic about winning over clients and her competition.

“I’m confident that everyone will give me a chance,” she says. “In Hong Kong the rivalry [between clubs] doesn’t seem so intense, because there is much more of a demand for clubbing than there is a supply. The city definitely needs newer options for nightlife. I think people will benefit from the variety.”

rachel geicke likuidThe management team at Likuid.

Likuid variety

Likuid’s extravagant lighting design (let's call it "laser rain"), K-array sound system, and live dance performances are some aspects of the club that Geicke claims are not seen elsewhere in Hong Kong. Otherwise, Likuid sounds like an aspiring Dragon-i or Volar.

A Central hotspot with a wealthy young clientele, exclusive door policy, mainstream-friendly music, and bar revenue that relies largely on bottle service.

“I want to mix new elements into the standard clubbing elements of Hong Kong, so people are comfortable but more excited and curious,” Geicke says.

The club’s interior is the work of Kinney Chan, a local designer whose projects include nightclub Hyde and bars Solas and Shore. There are no sharp corners in Likuid, only semi-circles and arabesques. The color scheme is silver and black but, as Geicke points out, this can and will regularly be changed with the flick of a light projector switch. 

The club is also equipped with large LED screens, where graphics will move with the music. The DJs will play a mix of house and hip-hop, with a smattering of “fresh, unique tracks,” while a large part of Likuid’s monthly budget will be set aside for international DJ events. 

“Having your lights flash and your graphics move in time to the beat of the music is quite standard in London, Ibiza and even Shanghai,” Geicke says.

“People enjoy that because it appeals to all senses at once. I haven’t seen anyone who does it in Hong Kong.”

Geicke will no doubt face the usual run of challenges, as well as those brought on by her inexperience and, to many, her lack of credibility.

“It’s been hard,” she admits. “A lot of the people I work with assume that because I’m a young girl, I’m spineless and I don’t know what I’m doing.”

But Geicke, against some hefty odds, has an impressive command of her vision, along with the audacity and drive that could make it a reality.

In the beginning, she says, “the first image that came into my head was the outside of the club: a red carpet, a bouncer in a suit and everyone dying to get in. I want everyone to be knocking at my door.”

 

Likuid

Opens on the second week of February.

58-62 D’Aguilar St, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong