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STELLA ARTOIS TAPPING THE PULSE 30/10/00

High living and low life in the hospitality capital, brought to you by Stella Artois, "serving rogues and knaves since 1366".

Photo: Jonathan England (right) and sister Dolly of Two Rooms celebrate their wins at the Felix Awards on Sunday night.

The city was relatively quiet for Labour Weekend and the following week... but any thought that party season might be a fizzer this year was dispelled this weekend just past. It was large.

The 4th Wellington International Jazz Festival came to a triumphant conclusion on Sunday. This year saw a higher calibre of artists and performances (international and local) than ever before, with numerous sellout shows. The inclusion of the New Jazz Transplant as Festival bar, lounging on the ground floor of the St Johns Ambulance building in Cable Street with dance floor action on the top floor, brought different jazzy cultures together.

Also on Sunday was a hospo calendar highlight: the annual Felix Awards.

Supreme Felix Award winner for best individual hospitality worker was Jonathan England of Two Rooms, who also took the Outstanding Chef award.

Jeff Kennedy, L'Affare owner, and veteran of Toad Hall, Mt Cook Cafe etc, won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other winners this year for contributions to the city's thriving hospitality scene were: James Galbraith of Castro's (Waiter); Johnny King of Castro's (Barperson); Warren Joe of Krazy Lounge (Barista); Dolly England of Two Rooms (Maitre d'); Marcus Darley of Brasserie Flipp (Restaurateur); and Alastair Brown of Logan-Brown (Most Innovative Chef).

Winning locations were 290 (Best Ambience and Style), Copita (Outstanding Wine List); The Woodward (Best Business Lunch) and Fiebig's (Diner's Choice).

A fine night was had by all.

The weekend had kicked off with the usual Friday night capital carnage.

The 2nd Marmalade Jam was held at StudioNine, and looks set to become an annual event on the social calendar. The hosts, Marmalade Audio, invite local ad agencies and other allied client businesses to put together bands and perform, with the results captured for posterity on CD.

It's a fun function, though for the most part it's a really good thing that these people have secure, well-paying day jobs. Some did it all themselves (on violin and melodica as well as the standard guitar/bass/drums); other brought in ringer players (from TrinityRoots, Black Seeds and Weta) to enhance the sound.

Highlight was the Clemenger BBDO crew, doing the funky mutant disco thing with blonde wigs, glitter, real singers and DJ samples from a guy who looked like that Nordic creation from the ETA ads.

Also on Friday, Native Design celebrated a great year, with a house party at their new Abel Smith Street premises.

Later on at the New Jazz Transplant, the Black Seeds and TrinityRoots laid down cool grooves (make sure you get the TrinityRoots debut EP before copies run out!).

Saturday was even bigger, with three large dance parties: Fevah with their usual capacity crowd at the Phoenix; Radio Active's huge Dark Forces party for Halloween at the James Smith's Carpark off Pringle Ave; and Detroit techno producers Common Factor and Recloose at the New Jazz Transplant.

Another Saturday social highlight was the cast and crew screening at the Embassy of new Wellington film Stickmen, which features hot pool playing action, top performances from Scott Wills, Robbie Magasiva and Paolo Rotondo as the title crew (alongside a gallery of excellent others), great cinematography and editing, a hot soundtrack from the House of Downtown and plenty of warm, feelgood Kiwi humour. More than enough to spell H.I.T. Watch out for its January release nationwide.

Other upcoming openings include a trio of new hospo joints. The big bright Hummingird has opened on the Blair Street/Courtenay Place corner previously occupied by Paradiso. Zoom Espresso will open soon on the corner of Featherston and Brandon. And yet another Malaysian restaurant comes to the capital: Sungai Wang is on Dixon Street next to the Curry Club, in the space formerly housing a martial arts store.

Also watch out for two more beers. The very popular Monteiths Summer Ale makes a welcome return, and the third release in the tap-only Brewmaster series, Munich Bock (with special ingredient, ginseng!) is available at selected pubs.

Another busy weekend ahead. The Royal NZ Ballet open their season of Cinderella on Wednesday (St James Theatre); Q Bar's private birthday party is followed by the return of UK drum'n'bass cru Bad Company (StudioNine, Thursday); Fun Poison featuring Tokyo techno DJ Mayuri are also at StudioNine (Friday), as are Naked Music featuring Miguel Migs (Saturday). The Roots Foundation have their 8th birthday party, Dubble Happy, on Saturday at The Matterhorn.

And if you have time around all that to fire up the barbie, check out the conveniently ring-bound and (big) pocket-sized book of Annabelle White's Best-Ever Barbecue Recipes (Penguin), released this week at the easy-buy price of $9.95.

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Visit the Stella website at http://www.stella-artois.be/. You'll need Netscape, Shockwave, Flash and a good command of the French or Dutch language.

Alternatively, check out http://www.stella-artois.com – the international site for beer.

STELLA ARTOIS TAPPING THE PULSE appears every MONDAY through LOOP in SCOOP.

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