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Everyone knows how Milanese nightlife works. The logic is very basic: the less people are able to come in, the cooler the place is. Once entered, people are not happy if someone wasn’t left outside. This logic is faulty, though, How many skip the line or elude the very strict door selection just by dropping the name of some eminence, some “friend” or list? Exclusivity is just an illusion that fuels the commerce. You don’t need actual requirements: you need the right connections, expensive reservations or, if things go south, a banknote in the right pocket.
Once inside, the illusion almost shatters: the place isn’t really more special than the others, it’s crowded to the level of obstruction and the ones on the dance floor are separated anyway from the deities making toasts in their privé. It’s a game of Chinese boxes, you open a door and you find another door, the real party is always elsewhere and your side of the fence is always the wrong one.
It makes one a little angry, that’s true, and sounds kinda frustrating. But there could be a consolation in finding out that even the most elevated gods of the privé, the mightiest potentates and honored of the lists and the more glorifies and imperious PR become commoners like you before the most inaccessible bar of them all: the 1930.
1930 is the speakeasy of the Mag family and no, it’s not a marketing initiative, it’s not a fictional secret, the bar is actually a secret. One of the best kept ones in town. Unlike those bar made to humor a shallow paying élite, 1930 is truly exclusive. There are no subterfuges to deploy, there are no banknotes to let slip in someone’s pocket. Either you are invited or you are not. Either you are in or you are out. It’s simple.
Surely, you already heard the name of this place, damn, it’s a legend in Milan. The thing you don’t know it’s its location but, even knowing that, how could you get in without the badge and the codeword? Behind the appearance of a small oriental joint, there are wonders that stay hidden, precluded to the uninvited.
But how do you get in? The answer is both simpler and more complicated than you would believe. Did you ever see one of those Japanese movies where a student, to prove himself worthy of the unbeatable sensei, must wait for days on end under the rain, the wind and the snow outside the dojo’s door? Or, if you know Fight Club, the recruitment methods of Tyler Durden? You got to the same, more or less. Only that instead of wind and snow, you have to become regular customers at Mag Café or Barba until the Grandmaster himself of one of his apostles will judge you worthy, will approach you and give you the invitation.
At first, you’ll enter the strange joint hesitating, asking yourself if you guessed right or you actually ended up in the smallest, vaguely creepiest oriental bar in the whole town, full of spices and sundries. But it’s all facade, a Maya’s veil that will be ripped apart in the moment you will show your badge and codeword. In that moment a door will open and a sharply-dressed waiter will appear to you like The Shining’s ghost bartender, inviting you inside.
There are no right words to prepare you to what you might find inside (and we say ‘might’ because you could very well never enter at all) but know that, beyond the secret door, you will find yourself in a new dimension, a wonderland or, if you are Netflix users, an Upside Down with the only difference that, instead of monsters, you will find cocktails that until now you never dared to dream before.
Listing them, mentioning them or trying to explain them to you it’s simply useless. You must be there, sitting in the lounge or, even better, in the underground area, sinking in velvet armchairs with an ear to the piano’s notes (yes, there’s also live piano music) to fully grasp what means to be a 1930’s patron. All things considered, 1930 is more a mystery religion than a bar.
Every religion worthy of its name has its own gospel and the Grandmaster, Genius Loci, Not-So-Gray Eminence or Galactic Executive Director or whatever you choose to call him, will make you read it while you order. The menù is a small book that, besides the drinks and the food, has a story in it, an urban feuilleton set in the very bar that, if you want, you can buy and read at home. Only the most sincere and fervent worshippers collect it. We’re already arrived at the tenth issue of the story so we suggest you don’t lose any more time.
In conclusion, you could have gone everywhere in Milan, both taverns or royal palaces, but you will you be able to say you’ve seen it all if you didn’t see this place? Many doors are easy to open but do you have what it takes to be part of the inner circle? This is not for us or you to say. Only the Grandmaster can judge and all is referred to his unfathomable will to which, us Milanese pleasure-seekers must bow, expose our neck and raise our hands.
Editor’s note: This article is proudly sponsored by Maio S.r.l. and promoted by Flawless Milano. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Flawless Milano possible.