The old mansion at 32 Sotheros does not really look like a place to party.
Built during the 1920s, the two-story rococo French colonial looks like it hasn't been inhabited since. The windows and doors are missing. The gorgeous Cambodian floor tiles are crumbling. Graffiti and bullet holes scar the threadbare walls.
"The place has a serious Bokor vibe to it," says Zeman McCreadie, who organized the first New Year's Eve party at the abandoned casino on Bokor Mountain in 1998. "It looks like a terrific place to throw a party, actually. I can't think of a better place in Phnom Penh."
Under the name La Mansion, moves to turn the semi-abandoned structure into Phnom Penh's version of Bokor Casino came in November when a German movie maker rented the place to use as a movie set.
"The film crew were great," says the FCC's Steve Hayward. "They built the bar and the DJ booth for their movie set and then left them behind."
The FCC stocked the bar, put in a few lights and, viola, La Mansion was born.
"It was really too easy," Hayward says.
Since the film crew left the FCC has held several parties at La Mansion. The first was a series of photography exhibits held in conjunction with Melon Rouge, the Paris-based photo agency. More recently, the Saigon-based Latin-rock act Bad Neighbours opened a mid-December gig for hometown turntable titan DJ Illest.
That party drew nearly a 1,000 people and established La Mansion as a viable party venue.
More parties are planned.
New Year's Eve will be La Mansion's biggest party yet. Born in the Philippines, DJ Sam is something of an elder statesman in the Phnom Penh DJ scene. His resume reads like a history of the capital's cutting-edge dance scene. He worked at The Casa during its heyday in the late 1990s, then later at The Monsoon. In the new century Sam's repertoire of popular dance music and unpretentious vibes helped establish The Riverhouse as a serious late-night player.
It seems only natural that DJ Sam will be in command the DJ booth on New Years, when the FCC and La Mansion welcome in a new year and a new venue. The party starts at 10 p.m. Fireworks at midnight.
The spinning continues throughout the month of January, on the 10th with DJ Karma -- the Heart of Darkness Saigon resident DJ for three years -- and then on the 24th with Sweden's DJ Glaser.
Entry for all events is free. A pizza menu from the FCC is available.