Other than our dear Ashin, another Mayday member has opened a cafe in Taiwan. Mr Masa’s Offline Cafe (離線咖啡) was recently opened in Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區). During my short weekend trip to Taipei, I dragged my sister and her friend to Masa’s cafe on a rainy night.
To go to Huashan 1914 Creative Park, you can take the Nangang/Blue Line to Zhong Xiao Xing Sheng Station (忠孝新生). Use exit one and continue to walk straight for about a block until you see an underpass. Huashan 1914 Creative Park is just across the street.
Despite visiting Taiwan during numerous ‘Mayday quests’, I have never been to Huashan 1914 Creative Park. I fell in love with the place instantly. It reminds me of the Pier 2 Art Centre in Kaohsiung. The area used to be a wine factory. It was restored and renovated quite recently. I am very impressed by how fast the arts scene is flourishing in Taiwan. It is indeed a ‘creative’ park that promotes the arts. There is a SPOT theatre that showcases independent films. Nestled in the arts hub is a fantastic concert venue, ‘Legacy‘. Ah Yue had his concert there just a few months ago. There are many interesting cafes and shops in the Creative Park. Mr Jay’s ‘Deja Vu‘ restaurant is located in the park (which serves lousy food with unimpressive magic shows). Arts exhibitions are held in the venue frequently. Currently, there is the ‘National Geographic’ photography exhibition which will end by 24 November 2013.
Thanks to Judy, a local who frequents the area, we found the cafe quite effortlessly. The cafe does not have a big signboard at its entrance.
You have to try to spot an inconspicuous label with the word ‘Offline’ on a cupboard near the shopfront.
Masa has devoted great efforts into renovating and furnishing the cafe. Just look at this adorable carton that greets the customers at the entrance!
The cafe is not ‘officially’ opened yet. It is having its ‘soft’ opening now. Hence, I think the menu is not finalised yet. Currently, the cafe only serves beverages. The minimum purchase is one drink per person. There is a 20% discount promotion during this period.
I am not a fan of coffee but I have to say that the coffee latte is very fragrant. I guess Masa, an avid coffee-drinker, must be very particular about the quality of coffee. I love the vinyl-disc-shaped coasters. I was so tempted to steal some back!
Masa must have spent a lot of money to furnish and decorate the cafe. Check out this interesting ‘metal case’ table that is covered with artistic scribblings.
There is a stage area in the cafe. You can sit on the stage and enjoy your coffee on these unique chairs and crate-like tables.
There is a long, more normal-looking table, in the cafe. I totally adore the massive bookcase that is behind the table. Masa probably loves to read as he makes a number of allusions to various literature in his prose writings.
I scrutinized the selection of books and found some classics as well as contemporary fiction (like Umberto Eco’s ‘In the Name of the Rose’). For Masa, I will attempt to read the book again and complete it this time around.
I was quite surprised by a diverse range of books related to films. There is actually a screenplay of a french film ‘Under the roof of Paris’ by René Clair. I also found a few books that discuss film studies and critical theories. Masa must be quite a ‘profound’ reader!
Obviously, Masa enjoys watching films. There is quite a number of film posters in the cafe. Check out Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’!
And Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’! Ah Masa! You are my Prince charming who loves to read and watches intelligent films! Please marry me!
I was not surprised that the concept of the cafe is closely associated to music. A poster of John Lennon’s ‘One to One’ album hangs authoritatively on the beautiful red brick wall.
Other than guitars, there is drum on the stage. Did Masa steal the drum from Guanyou?
There is also this retro-looking amplifier on the stage.
The interior of the cafe resembles a concert venue. The spacious cafe not only has a stage but a backstage elevated walkway feature. The staircase and the elevated walkway look like they belong to the backstage of a concert venue.
The elevated walkway is quite empty. There are only some cartons and empty guitar cases on it.
It will be very interesting if Masa places some small tables and chairs on the walkway so that the customers can have their coffee on the elevated walkway.
Somehow I felt that I was a voyeur stepping into Masa’s bedroom when I entered the cafe. There are so many ‘treasures’ in the cafe. I guess Masa must be a fan of ‘Star Wars’ and…
this funky orange elephant?
Of course, the famous Mayday icon – the ‘banana’ – must exert its Warholian presence in the cafe.
I was quite amused by the Bark/Mayday magazine which found its way into cafe’s magazine collection.
So verdict? I really love the concept and ambience of the cafe. Offline – the cafe encourages us not to use our mobile phones and be ‘online’ all the time. I think the culture of using mobile phones obsessively and surfing the internet is becoming too pervasive and unhealthy. Sometimes it is important to be ‘offline’ and focus on drinking the coffee, talking to your friends or just observing your surroundings. The cafe reflects Masa’s personality. By slowly drinking coffee and examining the interior of the cafe, you will perhaps get to know Masa better – to know him not as a member of Mayday, but a normal dude who loves coffee, music, books and films.
So why not take a few hours ‘offline’ and visit Masa’s cafe if you have a chance to visit Taipei?