Last weekend my best friend returned from Hong Kong and we met Shanghai to have fun. I haven’t been to Shanghai too often (though this was my third trip this semester) and I didn’t really know much about the Shanghai social scene, but luckily I knew someone who did. My British friend Hannah has been living in Shanghai for several months and knows all the “secrets” of the city.
Please join us on our epic night:
We started off in a small French Concession bar called something like Bike and Friends. We apparently crashed some British guys birthday party, so while it was still early, the place was packed. With foreigners. You have to understand, aside from the handful of foreign teachers and students, I see very few foreigners in my daily life. So be to be suddenly assaulted by dozens of foreigners, all speaking english, was a shock. Seriously. I couldn’t focus at first, and I could barely pay attention to what my friends were saying because my ears were focusing on all the conversation around me. It was oddly off putting.
Our next stop was a bar called Crocus and I want all the world to know, they have amazing pizza. Ah-MAZE-ing. Hannah said it was the best pizza in China, but she’s British, so I wasn’t expecting much. (I grew up a mere hour away from New York City, so I have high standards.) Well, turns out it was true. The all time best pizza I’ve had in China was a Hutong Pizza in Beijing, but this pizza, in this little unassuming pub, is a close second.
Crocus is Hannahs local watering hole, and we stayed there for hours. There was several of us, British, American, and Spanish and we just had a good time talking, drinking, laughing and eating. Maybe it sounds lame to you, but just casual native english conversation (with pop culture references and slang) don’t happen that often to me, so it is a real novelty.
We stayed a long time because we didn’t want to be dorky losers who show up at a club early (and it’s hard for me not to be a dorky loser, so I wanted to at least give it a shot for once.) So when the hour got late enough, we headed out to a secret little vodka bar hidden behind a restaurant. It was a classy place, with prices to match, and the music was quiet enough that we could actually carry on a conversation. Again, I think Color was the only Chinese person in the place. Man, does Shanghai ever have a ton of foreigners.
Now it was time to hit up a club. Chinese clubs and western clubs are quite different (I’ll be writing more about that later) and I wanted to go to both styles just to compare them. The first place we went to was No. 88, probably one of the most famous chinese style clubs in Shanghai. As it was saturday night, the place was packed. Luckily, Hannah and I carved out a little niche for ourselves and danced away. (I can hear my friends laughing now. ‘Becky danced?!’ Yes people, I danced! Now get over it!)
We stayed there for quite awhile, before it was time to try out a western style club. We went to a place called Zapata’s and the difference was immediate and shocking. It was like the chinese clubs was the Thanksgiving kiddie table and suddenly we moved up to the adult table (and all the adults were swingers). The place was just dripping with sex. In Chinese clubs you just dance with other people and have fun, and maybe, just maybe a guy will grab your hand or touch your shoulder. But in the western club there were countless couples all over the place making out (and, according to what one guy told me, a lot of the girls were prostitutes.)
The good thing about the western club was the music. Waaaaaaay better.
So after awhile there we went off to one more place. At this point I was dying of thirst, so I wanted to get a bottle of water. We went to a convenience store and happened upon one of the “biggest street parties in Shanghai” (According to this website) called Lawson’s Creek.
The store is called Lawson’s, and someone very “clever” came up with the pun. It happens a couple of times a year and it is supposed to be the place to meet interesting people. But from my observation, standing outside drinking a bottle of water, it seemed like most people there were confused at why so many people were hanging outside a convenience store. Again, it was mostly foreigners, and it was about this time I remembered why I don’t really like hanging out with foreigners.
Afterwards we took a little break in a park, and got to enjoy the peace and quiet of a pretty beautiful night. The weather was perfect, cool, but not cold, with a nice soft breeze. We saw a hairy, long creature run by which turned out to be a wild weasel. Hannah told me they were really common in Shanghai and I didn’t believe her (until I read this article. It’s true, Shanghai really does have wild weasels!)
The last club of the night was a place called Pheebe and it was the most fun. It had a mix of Chinese and westerners, it was crowded (but not too crowded) and we made instant friends with some french guys and danced with them all night. Total fun.
By the time we stumbled out of the club, I noticed the birds signing and the sky getting lighter. We had planned on going home but Hannah had one more brilliant plan left in her. “How about we go watch the sun rise over the Bund?”
Watching the sun rise over one of the most famous skylines in the world after a night of fun with good friends? Epic. Truly epic.