Beijing’s nightlife scene rammed its way into the 21st century after decades of staid Marxism and Maoism. Young people in the city are excitedly embracing China’s latest’ism’ – me-ism and the hoping bars and clubs in Chaoyang are the new temples to this religion.
The booming nightlife and bar scene is just another reflection of the changes that happened throughout the city as it prepared to host the 2008 Olympics.
The World of Suzie Wong, on the crowded bar and restaurant strip beside Chaoyang Park’s west gate, is named after the 1950s novel and 1960 movie starring Nancy Kwan and William Holden. The hip hangout charms with two floors of antiques and porcelain, carved wooden doors, and even a cauldron filled with rose petals.
On West Gongti Road, flashy clubs with names like Babyface, Cargo, Coco Banana and Angel are packed with beautiful Beijing women – movie stars, models, singers and artists – and rich businessmen, as evidenced by the parking lot full of luxury cars, Inside, imported DJ’s spin vinyl recordings. At the north fate of the Workers’ Stadium and nearby Sanlitun Road, a continuous stream of Beijing hipsters enters, as if led in a trance by the hip hop and R&B music throbbing from several bars (which have displaced venues once devoted to basketball courts and ping-pong tables).
At Mix, it’s wall-to-wall people drinking, dancing, or lost in conversation. The crowd runs the gamut of contemporary Beijing society: Chinese university students, diplomats, well-heeled business types, expatriate suits, prostitutes and foreign language students.
The hip hop crowd with their baggy jeans and shirt, prowls the side of the dance floor, while the more stylish 20-something sit at the tables, affecting boredom. On the second floor, young foreign businessmen stare down in amusement at the dance floor, which has suddenly become engulfed in a steamy mist, followed by bubbles, which in turn are replaced by falling confetti. Behind the bar, the waiters do tricks with fire. – Welcome to the New China.