Shanghaiist has a new favorite bar in town, and it’s great. It’s stylish yet unpretentious, has great cocktails, and a killer view. It’s … Glamour Bar?!? Who knew! Adjoining old Shanghai chestnut M on the Bund, Glamour was once a nice place to chill while waiting for a table, but was easily outshone by the flashy upstarts elsewhere on the Bund.
What a difference a renovation makes! It now takes up the entire floor below M, and is now, in Shanghaiist’s humble opinion, one of the best nightspots in town. The décor, drinks and music were fantastic, but what impressed us most was the attitude — friendly, accommodating and not at all like some of the other “places to be” around town. (“More water? Of course!”) The rather snooty long-time manager of M on the Bund was the lone exception to the rule — he rudely shoved Shanghaiist and friends out the door during a recent Sunday afternoon post-brunch visit. (“We open at FIVE — NOT BEFORE!”)
Nevertheless, the mostly positive experience at Glamour got us wondering — can a bar be stylish, glamorous and chill? Or is pretentiousness and exclusivity a vital part of the whole experience? Do we in fact like those snooty places because we feel better about ourselves when we finally make the cut, whether it be passing a bouncer or getting a drink?
Looking back on our recent visit, there was one other thing about Glamour Bar that caught Shanghaiist’s eye — it’s the latest Shanghai institution to employ foreign waitstaff. Granted, we only saw two Westerners, out of perhaps 10 waiters. But it’s a trend that’s been developing for quite a while — we first noticed the phenomenon more than two years ago at the old Kangaroo Bar near Maoming Lu, then owned by the infamous, outrageously fun, Kiwi Pete. The 20-something American bartenders were a great idea, and quite a novelty at the time. Recently, however, the idea seems to have popped up everywhere — Filipina waitresses at Element Fresh, Indian waiters at Punjabi and French bartenders at Bar Rouge.
It wasn’t that long ago foreigners’ jobs in Shanghai fell in three neat categories —corporates, teachers and media/entertainment types. These days, however, laowai increasingly seem to be smashing these old categories to bits as they expand into new jobs — waitstaff, restaurant owners, artists, writers, and real estate agents to name but a few. We wonder: How much can a foreigner make waiting on tables in Shanghai?
All this new cosmopolitanism makes us a little nostalgic for the more provincial Shanghai seen when we moved here — before it was discovered by Wallpaper*, TIME, and the beautiful people set. Remember when Maoming Lu was the only game in town? Not that we’re complaining — is it Happy Hour yet?
Image taken from the M Restaurant Group.
 We should note that, based on a couple recent visits to the new place, Manifesto seems to have abandoned its no-water-after-9-pm rule. Bravo!