Carnegie's is a small slice of Americana in the heart of a bustling Asian metropolis. The bar is famous for several reasons, and as a new visitor to Taiwan, my two hosts in this city (thanks Stacy and Kathy!) were keen to show me that Taiwan could party with the best of them. The food is average, the prices extortionate, but the crowd there is exceptionally hip and cool, and do their best to look as fashionable as possible. It is here that I reached the conclusion that there are no ugly people in Taiwan - all look healthy, dress well and glow with excitement. Perhaps that explains the proliferation of middle aged western men who flock to this city, and more specifically to Carnegie's.
It's not until well after 10 that you realise just why Carnegie's has become one of the hipper nightspots in Taipei. The plates are cleared away, the lights are dimmed a little, the dry ice is pumped in like magic, and the 70s and 80s retro classics give way to a musical diet of Ricky Martin, Robbie Williams and Britney Spears. Not long after the mood changes for the hipper a few brave souls are launching themselves on top of the bar, helped only by some ricketty golden handrails that would aid the grandmothers of Taipei were they in another location. The dancing on the bar has started, and would continue for hours to come. First the hip-cool-plenty-of-initiative types start up there, the crowd below gawking upward and trying their hand at a bit of dance karaoke.
Within a couple of songs, however, the dancing on the bar is on for young and old. Blokes who had previously cowered behind their litre-glasses of beer use their liquid courage to propel themselves onto the bar, and soon they are swaying to the smooth sounds of Kylie. A few songs later, and it's my turn. With Kathy and Stacy already atop the gold-railed impromptu stage, I venture up there and start dancing in the way that fat, rythymless white guys dance. My feet are fixed on the ground, my hips move awkwardly, my shoulders pivot around my neck, and my head bops up and down. Yep, that's as adventurous as I get.
By 1 in the morning, the dancefloor is packed, but with a round of drinks for four people setting me back close to NT$1000 (about AUD$40 - you know a place is pricey when people are ducking outside to buy 'cheap' drinks from a nearby 7-Eleven), it's time to call it a night. Stumbling into the darkness, I can now live the rest of my life knowing that I've had the perfect LA night out... in the middle of Taipei.