Opened in 2021 by Grupo Marea, the hospitality group behind local destination restaurant La Marea, Banksy Social Club is festooned with art-themed gimmicks. When not dancing the night away in a sea of strobe lights and lasers, guests are selfieing in a Flavin-esque light installation, ogling bodysuit-clad gogo girls hoisting giant letters that spell “BANKSY,” and guzzling $3,000 bottles of Moët served in a faux golden machine gun not unlike the one carried by Banksy’s Crayon Boy (2011).
Though undeniably kitschy, gaudy, and just about every other word under those two words’ thesaurus entries, the Banksy Social Club is loyal to its theme. It’s clear from the beginning: The entry hallway doubles as a gallery showcasing replicas of stenciled Banksy classics (Girl With Balloon, Pulp Fiction) that segues into the first room, anchored by sculptures of missile-toting angels and graffitied lions all created by local artists.
One wonders what the famously discrete Banksy might think of his eponymous cabaret, which La Marea describes as “an eclectic homage to rebellious art” and “art in all of its expressions, with references to various trends and artists from a diversity of genres” but ventures into the tricky territory of appropriation (if not the realm of Señor Frog’s). Given that one of his most infamous stenciled works proclaims “copyright is for losers,” perhaps he doesn’t care. His team seems to be keeping mum about the endeavor for the time being.
We’ll admit, the futuristic spatial concept that just debuted in Shanghai is more our speed, but we also have a soft spot for camp. For instance, we’re suckers for the magnetic kitsch of Las Vegas, where outlandish mega-resorts like Caesars Palace and Excalibur offer an unbridled fantasy and “innate cheesiness, that ooey-gooey flavor that makes ballpark nachos so desirable at concession stands.” Perhaps it’s the latest offering from Dismaland, Banksy’s apocalyptic bemusement park.