A single black title card with white lettering sets the scene in Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic, Blade Runner. The future the film depicts is both gorgeous and dystopian: a moody, rain-soaked, multicultural, techno-noir wonderland. The story follows Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), an ex-cop turned “blade runner” whose job is to track down and retire several realistic androids, called replicants, who are attempting to live past their engineered life expectancy. The replicants’ manufacturer, Tyrell Corporation, claims that their creations are “more human than human,” which leads to complicated soliloquies about what it means to be alive. Can even Deckard really tell a robot from a human?
When Blade Runner first launched, 2019 was years away. Now we’re here, and while we don’t have flying cars or androids that surpass the uncanny valley, we do have Nexus 2019, an immersive pop-up bar that promises to place us in a cyberpunk world not unlike Deckard’s.
Conceived by Wasteland Weekend creator Jared Butler, Nexus will open at a to-be-announced downtown L.A. location in November with an interior meticulously skinned to look like something straight out of the film (just don’t call it a “skin job”; that’s a slur that replicants do not appreciate.) Adding to the ambiance will be themed cocktails, food (including noodles), actors, and live entertainment.
“Blade Runner has always been among my favorite films,” Butler tells We Like L.A. “It’s such a great combination of classic Hollywood-style noir and innovative future sci-fi. I’m also a huge Harrison Ford fan. He was the bigger-than-life hero of my childhood—Han Solo, Indiana Jones, etcetera. When I moved to Los Angeles, and started spending more and more time in downtown L.A.—especially at night—I couldn’t help thinking about Blade Runner when I would walk down the city streets, especially on Broadway, where parts of the movie were filmed.”
The bar’s tagline is “more immersive than immersive,” and Butler has been producing the immersive Mad Max-themed Wasteland Weekend since 2010—long before brands latched onto the buzzword and started popping up Instagram-friendly selfie museums billed as “immersive.” Butler says he’s excited to combine his immersive work with the modern “cocktail renaissance,” taking “the idea of a themed bar to the next level.”
Cocktails come via BC Hoffman, co-owner of Well Work Beverage Consulting and a creative consultant with the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC). They include a smokey, chrysanthemum and chamomile-infused Old Fashioned made with Johnnie Walker (Deckard’s poison of choice); a rum-based concoction that looks like a container of noodles (what Deckard eats); and a Cadillac margarita with yuzu and a floating eyeball in ice, reminiscent of those made by Tyrell engineer Hannibal Chew. Notably, it is a replicant’s right eye, inscribed with their serial number, that a blade runner takes for proof of retirement. Gnarly, right?
As far as what types of immersive elements are on the table, Butler says much of that will remain a secret for the time being. But, he said in addition to an “incredibly detailed” interior that feels real and lived in, the way a good film set does, there will also be characters who interact with patrons in various ways.
“This is not going to be a ‘scavenger hunt/murder mystery’ type of adventure. That type of thing can be great, but we are focusing more on a place where people can relax and be themselves and enjoy a drink or a light meal,” Butler says. “However, there may be certain nights when other things can happen if the patrons decide to sign on for it. We don’t want to force certain types of interaction onto people who just want to come out and have a drink and feel like they’re entering a retro-future world.”
Tickets to Nexus will cost $82 each, which includes a two-hour reservation, one cocktail and a souvenir package. The two-hour limit is a hard out, though guests will be able to offboard into an adjacent, non-themed restaurant and bar if they so desire. Guests who wish to stay for another two-hour block may purchase multiple tickets, though they will need to exit and re-enter (and they will receive an additional souvenir package).
Though the ticket may seem pricey to some, Butler promises that anyone who walks into the space will be able to immediately see where the money went.
“We don’t do anything halfway. This is a passion project for so many people, and we’re treating it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the place we always dreamed about walking into and getting a drink,” he says. “We want to transport people. When they step through the door, they are guided into both the future and the past. The past of the noir days of Los Angeles, the world of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. But also the future, specifically, the future that the 1980s dreamed of, with flying cars, neon, and style. Anyone should be able to walk through our doors and feel like the star of their own movie. And maybe that feeling will linger when they walk out the door, particularly on a foggy night in Los Angeles, November 2019.”
The name Nexus, by the way, is derived from a series of replicants Tyrell manufactures. K, played by Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049, is a Nexus-9. A young Deckard falls in love with Rachael, a Nexus-7. Rob Zombie claims to be the Nexus-1 in “More Human than Human.” But Roy Batty, the leader of the replicant gang Deckard hunts in Blade Runner, is a Nexus-6, programmed with a lifespan of only four years. That’s still several years longer than Nexus the bar currently has, with dates only slotted through the month of November. It’s too bad it won’t last, but then again, what does?
Nexus opens on November 1. Tickets are $82. 21+ only.