Shanghaiist doesn’t drink much (okay, the occasional snifter of brandy at Christmas), and we don’t keep a lot of progressive trance on our iPod (none, in fact), but we’ve enjoyed enough nights on the tiles in Shanghai to speak with some confidence about the different clusters of clubs and bars in this city.
At least, we thought we had, until we read yesterday’s China Daily article, “Top 10 Shanghai Nightspots“. Now we’re left feeling sorry for ourselves for being so far out of the social loop.
Indeed, if you consider yourself the Big Man or Woman about town simply because you’ve been to all of the Pier One opening parties, think again. Turns out you’ve been sipping your Moët in the wrong place altogether.
The China Daily article sets things straight. If you’re looking for a truly hot destination, you should be on the Bund. Not only that, but there’s really only one venue to be seen at if you’re looking for a Condé Nast or Wallpaper-worthy nighttime experience. Laris, you say? Course not. Jean Georges? Don’t be daft. No, it’s: “the British-style Dongfeng Restaurant, in the old Shanghai Club building.”
Hmmm … must have missed that one during our last crawl of the city’s hot nightspots. We bet they do a great lychee martini though.
Next on the list of must-visit locations for the hottest of nights out is the “Nanjinglu bustling shopping street.” You’re not thinking Nanjing Xi Lu, are you? That place with the tawdry LV, Armani and Gucci stores, and Italian restaurants around each corner? Forget about it. No, the article is of course talking about Nanjing Dong Lu. That’s right: the pedestrian mall near the Henan Lu metro station. Dong is the new Xi, baby!
From there, we head into the real heartland of Shanghai’s nightlife; the kinds of places where “a lot of foreigners of all races get together to listen to famous resident bands.” And what heights of fame those bands have reached.
These eminent musicians can be heard at places such as the “classic bar strip” on Hengshan Lu. Venues here include Sasha’s, “a typically extravagant bar [where] the menu is only in English and the waiters don’t speak Chinese.”
Hmm. The guy who served our drinks last time in Sasha’s seemed to have a decent grasp of Mandarin. Reckon he picked it up during the first 19 years of his life when he lived with his parents in Ningbo.
“Other popular bars are the Mexican Zapata’s which has weekly dance parties; Hongfan, a popular club among young professionals and university students (cover charge RMB 50); the simply decorated jazz bar; Hot Chocolate, and Canglongge or hiding dragon house — the only Chinese bar.”
From that list, we’re familiar with Zapata’s. Then it gets a bit hazy. Hot Chocolate rings a bell, but we’re quite possibly thinking of the drink — even the band — rather than the hot Shanghai nightspot.
After a brief diversion to take readers to that other so-hot-it’s-not-funny location, Duolun Lu (yep, the place up north that sells all the sepia postcards of “Old Nanking Road”), the article wraps things up with a wander through Xintiandi, the city’s “best outdoor bar area.” And it’s here where Shanghaiist is really made to feel like a social pariah.
“Famous nightspots on Xintiandi include Shanghai Dongmei Canyin Yule Zhongxin (Dongmei Food and Entertainment Center), a meeting place for stars and their fans; Colored Glaze Restaurant owned by Taiwanese film star Yang Huishan with a colorful crystal palace dining room; a French restaurant featuring Parisian cabaret and an underground cellar dining room; a Japanese music restaurant playing hot rock music every night; and a South American flavor Brazilian barbeque restaurant.”
We’re not sure we’ve encountered a single one of these.
Sigh. Seems like Shanghaiist has been spending too much time cooped up at home watching DVDs. Time to give the rolodex a spin and throw ourselves into the scorching social scene that lies waiting just outside our door, and, apparently, up towards Duolun Lu a bit.