Daniel An's whole empire seems built on self-indulgence. Catch him at his bars and he's likely to talk about sous-videing bourbon with cornerstore chocolate because he felt like it, or freezing dill in ice spears because he felt like it, or opening Don Club, a nightclub, because he felt like it. For someone who seems to operate on a whim, he's doing very well: this is his sixth (!) location in Shanghai and like the third or fourth in two years. This might take the cake for indulgence: after closing Don in January (and barely pausing to open RTD), Daniel An and Co. have refitted their fourth floor space into something familiar — Taste Buds, a reboot of his first cocktail lounge which closed in 2017 — with something wholly unfamiliar — a bunch of hot dogs. Yes. Dogs, which are hot, in bread. And, a little distressingly, made in-house.
Drums! Drum machines sounding in the deep! Le Cafe Des Stagiaires (phew got it first try!) is celebrating its third birthday this Saturday, May 23 down in the pit. In a way, that means Found 158 is turning three as well. CDS was among the first to see the potential for drinkan and partyan in the concrete hole in the park, and is largely responsible for it becoming everything that it is today. Birthday brunch from noon, apero from 4pm, and the full-on party from 9pm until late. That's a full twelve hours of revelry.
And while you're down there, pop over to Zapfler, who are also celebrating their third anniversary. 98rmb free-flow on beer and free German food from 3-6pm. Belgians on one side, Germans on the other, and you in the middle. Found 158: bringing people together. Wansui!
Less than a week after we found out that Scoreboard had closed, the inevitable happened: Windows' final outpost, Windows Garage, is closing tonight. Yeah. Announced in a WeChat post from the Windows Official account, which came alive for the first time since Halloween just to let us know that the other shoe has finally dropped. Why? Pandemic? Or Perry's. Who knows. The post includes no other information. Not even if there's going to be any free booze.
We're not sure when it happened, but it did. At some point in the last couple months, a Shanghai institution was relegated to the dustbin of history: Windows Scoreboard, once the crowning jewel of what has since become TX Mall, has closed. A shame. Lots of memories there. Many of them good! Some dating from after 2015, even. Horrible, phase-shifting hangovers, too, but surprisingly not as much food poisoning as you'd expect.
Shock! Horror! Surprise! Maybe not surprise, but definitely a sudden development: according to their WeChat, Arkham, a long-time fixture on the club kid circuit, is closing this weekend. For good! No "we'll be back soon" no " 'renovations' ," no "shifting to a pop-up format," just ... seven years and out, baby! They announce it proudly. Four years in the cramped confines of a concrete cage on Wulumuqi Lu, then another three in the concrete cage of Found 158. But what a concrete cage it was! They hosted in the A$AP crew, Chromeo, Will Smith Jr., Lil Yachty, DJ Snake, Thundercat, ZHU, Bohan Phoenix, the Higher Brothers (back when that was cool) — yeah man, that's not a bad line for the epitaph. Some good times were had down there. Go drink it dry on Friday & Saturday.
ALL is an unabashedly avant-garde nightclub, the successor to the much-loved Shelter, and a bit of a flashpoint in the underground music community. Its supporters are ardent that it's a cultural anchor of the city, far beyond being a place to go out and get wasted. Detractors think it's gone too avant. And now it might close. Earlier in the month, the club put out an SOS call to help it raise 300,000rmb to pay expenses including rent, or be forced to close. Promoters and artists have rushed in to organize events, including a pretty interesting-looking video exhibition titled "We Came To Linger" happening over two days this week, with nine videos very loosely related to club culture and demise. Ahead of the show, which kicks off on Wednesday May 13, I spoke to the show's curator, Alvin Li.
If you stumbled down Fumin Lu sometime in the last month looking for cigarettes at the Alldays, you may have accidentally walked into Lucky Mart. This is Camden Hauge's newest thing, in cooperation with design studio Wolfbelly and Dawn (The Odd Couple) manning the soda pumps. It's a Japanese bar dressed up to look like a convenience store. They do not sell cigarettes. Instead, they specialize in highballs, Japanese konbini snacks, highballs, cup noodles, hotdogs, highballs and highballs. They've been open since early-mid April, but that doesn't counts because they only just got a bathroom installed. We're going to say the first month of operation was some avante-garde performance art piece titled "Watering The Neighbors."
Shanghai may have hit peak cocktail with J. Boroski. Hidden entrance. Reservation only. No real menu. Bartenders in vests. Tired concepts, to be sure, but never executed to this level before. There are many things to say about this luxe, sexy and painstakingly assembled Bangkok transplant. It is unlike any other cocktail bar in the city, one of only a handful that successfully makes the argument for cocktails being a craft. And it is expensive. In Shanghai, during an epidemic and a bum economy, though, the only real question is whether it's worth it.
The rumors are true, fans of the amber liquid! Spring will bring with it one and possibly as many as two new beer spots. Mikkeller, a Copenhagen microbrewery and indie-beer-darling, is opening its first China store. Right here! In Shanghai! Big excitement for beer nerds. It's taking up a prime ground floor spot in a pristine white new complex opening up just behind the 7/11 on Yanping Lu. 20-some taps of the Danish staff and bottles, sleek, modern Scandi atmosphere, no Edison bulbs. Expect that late May.
Elsewhere, Brewdog finally has a hoarding up in Merchant's Plaza. The Scottish brewery loomed large in China's craft beer scene for a while, even inspiring a knock-off in Changzhou, but plans for their own location have been slow to take off. They announced plans in 2018 and it's only now that it seems like it might actually be happening. Maybe. Construction expected to start after May holidays, and opening probably end of July. Maybe. Probably. Maybe.
A shot of methadone for those in bottle service withdrawal: M1NT has posted an image on their WeChat that just reads "May 8, 2020." So mysterious! What could it mean? Oh yes — it's their re-opening. More immediately, KOR has announced it will reopen its fancy, fancy "super lounge" on Thursday, April 30, with some precautionary measures: temperature checks, naturally, one-meter spacing between guests and a "high-dose ozone air-conditioning disinfection system". The restaurant (there's a restaurant!) opens on May 15.
Stone Brewing made a surprise exit back in March. And now their old space is making a surprise return, with almost everything the same as before except the name (now Commune Reserve) and the correction of a glaring oversight — French fries and ketchup. Commune, as a brand, has more than 30 beer bottle shops around China, from Nanning to Beijing, but for Shanghai, they are basically doing Stone 2.0. Passing the torch as it were. Twenty of the 30 taps will remain Stone beers, permanently, and the other ten taps will rotate between other Chinese breweries and Stone specials. The kitchen staff is the same. The servers are the same. The menu is the same. It's pretty much all the same, with the exception of the fries and the fact that they will now serve cocktails as well. Expect Commune Reserve to open by the end of the month.
Good news, club fans. Bar Rouge (and its terrace), Le Baron and Parrot are all back this week (with some caveats). Bar Rouge is only open Fridays and Saturdays (8pm-late) for now. Le Baron is open Thursday-Saturday, and will only be accepting guests with table reservations. Parrot's open on Friday, April 17. More baby steps towards normality, but we're still not there; jazz spots like JZ Club and Shake have reopened, but are either live-streaming or just doing food and drink. The Pearl has basically turned itself into a cinema for the foreseeable future. Local clubs like TAXX, ERA, Space Plus — places we go all the time — are open but not accepting foreigners. Which... yah. Anyway, three more places to have your suishen ma checked this weekend.
Here's something interesting: a Japanese whiskey highball bar on Fumin Lu with Japanese convenience store snacks, sandwiches and "izakaya-ish" options is opening this weekend. It will be called Lucky Mart. The logo is a blue lucky cat with piercing red eyes. Camden Hauge is behind it, along with design studio Wolfbelly. Open until 4am. Prices go up the higher you climb the whiskey shelves (figuratively speaking), with the more unique and older stuff at the top. It's under construction as you read this but plans to open to the public on Saturday night. Expect it to be mobbbbbbbbbbbbed.
There are worthy endeavors, noble efforts to further the human spirit, and then there's this. In times of gloom and despair, Daniel An (Arch, Atelier, Antique) and his co-conspirators have opened a cocktail dispensary a stone's throw from Xintiandi and Found 158, with the express mission of getting people okay with the idea of day drinking. It's called Ready To Drink (RTD for short). It's possibly — think the math checks out — the cheapest way to get tastefully plastered any time of the day.
There's some confusion in nightlife happening as a new government order directs entertainment venues to close, even as a number of venues re-open. The government document, which SmartShanghai has seen, is titled Dispatch 132 and is dated 31 March. Directed at district governments and work units, published by the Shanghai Novel Coronavirus Epidemic Prevention and Control Office, its five articles specifically mention the closing of or tight restrictions on libraries, museums, art museums, cinemas, performance sites (for opera and the performing arts, etc), as well "歌舞娱乐场所", or the very broad category of "song, dance and entertainment venues". It does NOT mention bars, restaurants or cafes. It's unclear what exactly those entertainment venues are meant to be, as a number of live musicvenuesre-open this weekend (albeit without live entertainment), and even certain clubs plan to open again this weekend. Meanwhile, Bar Rouge has put things on hold, saying "during this period, we will be taking some time to remain closed and get ready for a strong opening and future ahead." So, as has been normal during these uncertain times, regulations are evolving and if you are planning on going out to sing, dance or be entertained this weekend, remember to call ahead and confirm your destination is open.
Yep. Shanghai's 12,000sqm megaclub Space Plus is opening its main club room (it has three) with an actual live DJ. That's unexpected! Caught most everyone by surprise, including other club owners. Our first hint was when we saw a table promoter announcing they were taking reservations. Woohoo. Even if you're not a club person, big clubs reopening are a good sign for those who wake up every morning asking "are things back to normal yet." No word on if your twelve-pack of Moet comes with complimentary hand sanitizer.
There are several factors that could tip us off that things are slowly getting back to normal. One would be schools reopening. The other would be nightlife. And, hey, look at this. Bar Rouge is open tonight from 6pm with no entry fee, and C's is opening on Friday! All places obviously have limitations, they're all pledging to be extra careful with the disinfecting and the wearing of the masks and so on and so forth, and they'll probably be closing a little earlier than normal. (psst. Celia still goes till "late") But hey, nightlife!
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