Sense 99 – a favourite underground bar in Central for music fans, artists and local activists – is to close after 15 years owing to a rent hike.

“[W]e chose to leave because we cannot accept the huge rent increase this time,” bar owner To Wun told HKFP. “[We] won’t fundraise, don’t want to give in to real estate developers”

Sense 99
Sense 99. Photo: Sense 99.

However, To added that Sense 99 will reopen under the same name at a new location: “We will continue, same style, more fun…”

The bar and art space, which spans two floors of a historic building on Wellington Street, first opened in January 2004.

Alongside Club 71, Sense 99 was one of the few underground drinking spots left in the Central district. It hosted live music and informal jam sessions on its second floor, and was popular for its community atmosphere, artworks and affordable drinks.

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A 2009 article by CNN Travel noted: “As you wrestle with Sense 99’s rusty door hinges, prepare yourself for the convivial atmosphere that will engulf you as soon as you enter the bar. Everyone seems to know everyone else at Sense 99, but it is by no means exclusive — they want to know you too.”

News of a closing party, and a reopening party at a new site will be shared in June.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.