Yongkang road, the popular bar street which our friends at Smart Shanghai once dubbed ‘the new centre of the universe‘, has become a battleground between (mostly) expat drinkers and locals who are as mad as hell and not going to take this anymore.
The Shanghai municipal government will begin forcing bars on Yongkang road to close at 10pm to appease residents who complained about the noise, according to the Global Times.
The dispute between the bars and their upstairs neighbors came to a head Saturday night when a group of annoyed residents dumped water on some of the more than 200 bar patrons sitting outside.
A video of the incident, taken by one of the residents, showed patrons yelling up at the residents, who had just dumped the water from their balconies. “They gave us the middle finger and shouted at us,” said Xu Yinhao, the resident who shot the video.
The dispute is further complicated because most of the neighboring residents are Chinese, while the bars’ patrons are overwhelmingly expatriates.
It’s rather charming that Xu is offended that someone he just dumped water over would have the temerity to flip him the bird, but as you can see from the following video, residents’ complaints are somewhat justified.
There’s a difference between complaining about bar patrons coming and going loudly, and dozens of people standing drinking in the street late at night. This doesn’t justify residents’ actions of course (there have been allegations that glass bottles, along with water, were thrown, thatz not okay) but it does explain them somewhat.
The neighborhood’s older residents find the noise especially disturbing, Xu said. “There are many seniors living here,” he told the Global Times. “If they keep their windows open at night, it sounds like New Year’s Eve out there, especially in the summer when the bars put out tables on the sidewalk.”
Speaking to the Telegraph, a local Shanghai expat echoes Xu’s assessment:
“The place was absolutely crawling with people, mainly non-Chinese,” said 28-year-old Michael Ashford, a Shanghai-based photography producer. “It was quite crazy really, how many people were out – and it was loud.”
On Reddit, Shanghai expats weren’t particularly surprised that things had come to a head on Yongkang road:
mrchrono: Is it really that difficult to understand why they are pissed?
Yongkang Lu used to be a normal street, known for the vegetable market, turned art street, turned (french) hipster hangout.
Sure, in the beginning the locals probably enjoyed the property value increase, but now there are bunch of drunken douchebags beneath your window, every single night.
And regardless of any hypocrisy, they are all foreigners and it still is China, this does not help for the locals to show a more acceptable behavior towards the situation.
Disorted: You are completely and totally correct. Three years ago there was nothing worth mentioning on this street. Yongkang went from nothing to expat hangout seemingly overnight. The residents have the right to be pissed. I like how there’s barely a mention in the article about this point. And when Yongkang exploded (for lack of a better word), I remember it only being restaurants.
I feel like a weird hipster saying “I went there before it was cool”, but seriously- is any expat spot on that stretch over three years old? I can’t think of anything before 2011.
Kingimped:Ugh, Yongkang Lu. I’m not surprised that the residents are getting pissed off. That end of the road was ‘gentrified’ almost overnight – it went from a ghetto Shanghai street into a street lined with bars, restaurants and shops for French people within a month or two. And they’re there every night, parking their scooters haphazardly, and blocking traffic. The bars are all tiny on that street so everybody just stands outside, spilling way out into the road, blocking even more traffic and generally making a shitload of noise. And from what I’ve seen, the residents above the bars and shops are all really old Chinese people who look like they’ve been living there for decades. They must hate it.
Cafe des Stagiares is especially bad, that place is heaving every single night. I’m really not shocked that the Chinese residents are getting annoyed at the noise. I’ve walked down that road around 10pm on a weeknight and it’s fucking loud. They’re currently putting an Irish pub further down the road (where it meets with Xiangyang Lu), I somehow doubt that’s going to be quiet either.
On Shanghai Expat, ATP writes:
Clearly the Luwan District Urban Planning department (or similar) hadn’t counted on the noise issue, or didn’t care, or were ignored by the ‘City Elders’ in Yong Kang Lu’s establishment. Some of these may very well have direct or indirect interests in some of the establishments there.
As for the Yong Kang Lu Chinese residents being portrayed as ‘innocent, elderly victims’, this is just another piece of stupid, idiotic Western press propaganda. It may have some validity, but one of the stories I overheard from one of the proprietors was a very significant threat by one of the locals of destruction to his shop front, given the problem he was having (not noise).
I’m inclined to agree with ATP in that the blame ultimately lies with Luwan authorities, who reportedly told the bars to keep to reasonable hours months ago but then didn’t bother policing it, and now are feigning shock that they were ignored. In fact, if the creators of the noise were Chinese, as opposed to foreign, likely the beleaguered local residents would be shit out of luck. As it happens they’re able to capitalise on anti-foreign sentiments among local officials and in nationalistic tabloids like the Global Times.
Who comes of worse in this story, expat drunks or Yongkang road residents? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.