If you are a lover of both ping-pong and bars, then don't miss the W Sports and Music Restaurant and Bar in Beijing. The attraction of this bar, at 116 Sanlitun South Street, is its genuine Northern Europe flavor. However, the greater temptation lies in the chance that you may bump into Jan-Ove Waldner, a legendary Swedish ping-pong figure.
Chinese people call Jan-Ove Waldner "Old Wa," a term of endearment. A huge life-size billboard of Waldner in sportswear stands at the bar's entrance, reading: "I will serve you!"
Jointly invested in and owned by Waldner, Swedish ice hockey star Michael Nylander, and Swedish pianist Robert Wells, the theme of the bar is "sports and music." Although his two partners are no less famous than he in Sweden, Waldner is definitely the principal attraction in Beijing. There are many photographs in the bar of Waldner playing ping-pong, from his childhood to present. Through a corridor behind the bar, there is a special room named after Waldner. Every letter of invitation from the bar's opening ceremony was written by Waldner alone.
ping-pong enthusiasts will be very familiar with photographs in the bar, for
almost all of them appear in Waldner's biography, J.O. Waldner: When the Feeling Decides. However, the principal ornament in the Waldner Room may be changed to a photograph published in Table Tennis World, of Waldner with Liu Guoliang and Kong Linghui, two national champions of China, cheering for the Grand Slam. The photo was taken during the Table Tennis Open China Qingdao in 2002 and was given to Waldner as a gift.
The bar opened for business in November 2004. On the day of its opening, 150 guests were invited, including world-famous ping-pong players Liu Guoliang, Wang Tao, as well as the Swedish ambassador to China, and other dignitaries.
The bar's opening marks the scratch line of "Waldner brand" development in China. W Sports and Music Restaurant and Bar will be Waldner's base in China. Hoping to make the bar a place for Northern European enterprises to display their brands, Waldner will come to the bar in person often. Many Northern European enterprises' commercial activities or fashion parties related to Northern Europe will be held there. Artists from Northern Europe will come to put on shows or display their works from time to time. People can not only enjoy Northern European dishes here, but also unique, pure, leisurely, fashionable, and natural feelings and tastes.
Talking about the plans about his bar, Waldner is in high spirits: "I am myself familiar with the city; another reason for choosing Beijing to open our bar is my love for this city itself. I want to employ it as a means to repay my Chinese fans' hospitality and kindness. Equipped with a lot of sports equipment, my bar is in a sense a sports bar. We also have a large screen projection TV to make it convenient to watch live broadcast sports programs. My ultimate goal is to bring comprehensive enjoyment to my fans."
Waldner's agent told us their original intention of running the bar: with an ever-improving life, Chinese people now have more and more demands for entertainment. With the 2008 Olympic Games closing in, there will definitely be more opportunities in the sports market. W Sports and Music Restaurant and Bar is Sweden's touchstone for the market.
(China Pictorial January 7, 2005)