How to Party in China

11 December 2012

So, you've found yourself in China and you're interested in maybe going clubbing. But what's it like? Your head starts to spin with the possibility of being drugged and stolen away by some foreign skeezeball lurking inside the dimly lit club. Fear not! I'm here to tell you that clubbing in China was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and definitely a must do.

What: What's inside those doors? An amazing time! Most clubs aren't entirely different than the format you'd find in an American club. Upon arriving my little American heart rejoiced at the fact that there are no covers. And, of course, no one checks id's. When you enter you'll be offered a table or a booth (for a price) or you can just wander around the club (for free!) My favorite option was to scope out some fun looking people and join them at their table. Every Chinese person I met was so friendly and never seemed perturbed by my very forward approach. Even if they didn't speak English, they smiled and offered me what ever bottle they had going around their table (for freeeee). 

One thing I really loved about Chinese clubs: Performers! It's kind of like being in a music video - A very attractive dancer (male or female, sometimes in groups) comes out and perform and sing a choreographed routine. It brought such great energy to the club and was so fun to watch. How can I get this job???

One thing I really disliked about Chinese clubs: There's not really a dance floor. There may be a small, raised platform for the aforementioned performances but other wise it's just tables. But, that's ok, we usually just made a dance floor wherever we were standing.

When: One of the few things I had to adjust to was the time schedule of Chinese partying. In America I'm used to pregaming and then hitting the clubs no earlier than midnight and then partying all night. In China, people are hitting the clubs at 10 pm, things go into full swing around midnight, and people are clearing out by 2 am. If you want the party to keep going after a club, head over to a bar. Bars typically still have a fair amount of people in them after 2 am and dancing is very much allowed.

Take a break and play with fireworks by the river
Who: So, who will you meet in a Chinese club? Truthfully, the crowd is much different than what I expect of an American club. For sure there will be absolutely no one below university age. No, I take that back. One time I ran into one of my students while I was on the dance floor. He looked at me with wide eyes, "Xin dong feng*?"

 "Yes," I slurred, "Now say it English!"

Pop quiz on the dance floor. Deal with it.

So, generally the crowd will be college-aged but also don't be surprised to see a generous amount of older business men. There seems to be no stigma about age (unless you are young- why are you dancing? You should be studying!) so you will find these older gentlemen on the peripherals of the dance floor at tables, surrounded by bottles of booze. Hint: These men like to share their drinks.

*The company I worked for while teaching English.

How: How do you get to these clubs? Taxi! I never used so many taxis until I lived in China. They're very convenient and super cheap (seriously, a half-hour taxi ride costs the equivalent of 7 US dollars). Just make sure to have the written address of where you want to go and for where you want to return at the end of the night. Even if you speak Chinese, some taxi drivers will insist that they can't understand your accent and that they need to see the words written down. I had no problem with this, though- it's so much easier to drunkenly throw the business card of your hotel at the driver than actually give directions.

Where:  I didn't party in every city of China but I can definitely tell you about the clubs and bars of Wuhan-

Burton Bar: Absolutely my favorite bar for many reasons. 1) You can graffiti the walls to your hearts content. 2) Good food and hookah for reasonable prices. 3)Free beer all summer before midnight and Wednesday is ladies' night which means free cocktails til midnight. 4) It's international - I've made friends from Egypt, Madagascar and France while hanging out here. 5) The bar owner really liked us and handed us free beer even passed midnight.

Helen's Cafe: This bar is really similar to Burton Bar but you're not as likely to get free beer. Still, a really good time if you don't want to do any hardcore partying for a night. Also, this is a chain so you can find it in Shanghai and other cities around China.

Queens Bar / Pin Club: These two clubs are side by side and quite similar. Go here if you want a moderate night of partying.

Vox: This venue offers live, punk bands and after the show the dance floor opens up and you can swerve to some electro. I saw a Australian band perform here and, well, this isn't my favorite club but then again I'm not really a concert going person.

Brussels Beer Garden: If you want to pretend you're in Europe for a bit, hit up this bar. It's got every European beer you can imagine and has a low-key atmosphere. A little expensive (by China standards) but nice for a chill night.

Jianghan Riverside club district: Here you will find several clubs in a row right along the river that offer the most amazing partying. My favorites were Muse, Return 97, and Soho. Party long and hard.

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