Since Shanghaiist has been accused of ruining things like the old Tang Hui, we thought we’d share with you the fruits of our actions — the new, improved (?), definitely not at all dingy, gritty, divey, ’50s-Motown-music-during-the-intermissions place on Xingfu Lu you that once knew and loved. Here’s the rundown: Tang Hui has not only expanded and moved to a four-story villa on the corner of Huating Lu and Huaihai Lu (85 Huating Lu, just by the Changshu Lu subway station) but they’ve also expanded the concept — there are now four floors and will thus feature simultaneous music (one act on floors 1-2, another on 3-4), so that if rock doesn’t strike your fancy that night, you might be able to catch some electronic or more intimate (solo instrumentalist) performance instead. And while they’re sticking with the mainland scene, expect them to book some overseas acts when they’re in town.
The whole building, which cost about 1.6 million RMB to renovate, has a much more industrial/cement tip than before; the decor involves red vinyl or leather, with an old winding wooden staircase that takes you to the upper floors. The first floor is music, the second is a mezzanine (to watch the first floor show from), and the third floor and fourth floor are something along the lines of a “Chinese lounge” — meaning shoes-off opium beds (like in the old one), more food, more chill and more of a bill … there will be paid seating to the tune of about a 1,000 RMB minimum order per table.
The concept has also changed in that the food/dining experience has also become more central. There are bars on each floor, and they are now adding their own cafeteria, which makes pizza (not bad) and sandwiches (less good, but not bad). Their people told us that the food would be something akin to Elements Fresh or Casbah. A good place to enjoy your food would be the outdoor patio, which is fully encased in glass and will be serviced, we’re told, by two air conditioners. There were hints that they would find creative uses for the space, such as barbecues and the like. Tang Hui will open 11ish on the weekdays and earlier on the weekends. With wireless internet and air con, it shouldn’t be a bad place to hang out on a lazy weekend morning with a laptop and brunch.
Some of you might know that the old Tang Hui had to move because of the noise issue in a residential neighborhood. It seems that the new investors have done some hard thinking about this problem, because they’ve put in some fancy noise insulation on the walls, and between the outside entrance, outdoor but encased-in-glass patio, and the actual inside are three separate doors, in order to keep the music from bothering the people that live around the area.
Will the new Tang Hui be the same/better/worse than the old one? Will it be a place where fools rush in and hipsters fear to tread? The owners want to retain part of the old formula: co-owner Zooma and his band will occasionally perform. The drink prices will remain roughly the same (20 for a bottle of Xinjiang Black Beer, 30 for a pint of Tiger, Heineken on tap for about 40, spirits about 30), and the owners tell us that despite the addition of paid seating and more eclectic musical fare on the third and fourth floors, the first floor, devoted to live rock, will “mirror” the old Tang Hui. They open on Saturday the 13th, and if you can’t find it, look to the sky and if you see Warhol-esque solid color pop prints of the iconic Che picture on the wall (and the massive Tang Hui sign), you’ll have found it.
The first show is the American band Addicted to Fiction, an electronic duo from Brooklyn, now based in Los Angeles. You can find their China your dates here and listen to their music, read their blog, and stalk them with civility on their Myspace site. The show is Friday, May 13, and starts around 9 pm. Tickets are 60 RMB and do not include a drink.
Tang Hui, 85 Huating Lu (near Huaihai Lu, opposite Changshu Lu Metro Station). 华亭路85号（近淮海路，常熟路地铁口). Tel: 64731410.
Photo of the old Tang Hui from Monkeyking’s Flickr page.