Year Abroad: Shanghai Night Life

Shanghai Night Skyline Pudong PuXi The Bund

Ladies, forget pre-drinks,

WELCOME TO SHANGHAI.

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It’s not all about the studying out here in Fudan University, Shanghai. For the first week, us newbies have been  sampling some of the famous nightlife that the big city has to offer.

Apart from the fairly long metro journey from where we are in Yangpu District out in the evenings (where the last train is at 1030) and the dubious fare negotiation with taxis from the French Concession area back, there is actually very little money that leaves the pocket – especially if you’re a girl. Sorry boys, but Shanghai is infamous for ‘Ladies Nights’. In a very desperate attempt to lure women into bars and clubs there are deals such as free entry, free drinks all night, free mojitos all night, and even, free champagne. Mum and Dad, I swear I’m being sensible…

Boy, we have not been disappointed by Shanghai. Here’s a quick spin through the fab range of nightlife that Shanghai has to offer whether you’re on the hunt for something classy or downright dirty.

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Arkham Club Shanghai Bunker Nightlife

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In September, I set foot in the fluoro-splashed tunnel that leads to the Arkham bunker: a high-roofed chamber with raised platform stage and meshed off viewing gallery in which heavy beats from TICT Creative’s Nat Self pounded for the Zombie Disco Squad – unfortunately, rather literally interpreted by several glassy eyed clubbers with sweaty face-paint.

If you’ve been in Bristol, this is the Shanghai equivalent. It’s smoky, it’s grimy, and it’s most definitely sweaty at this lock-down venue, and the classic house/disco/hip-hop mix is heady and heart-pounding. There’s not much to say for the bunker itself: it does what it says on the tin. But stick a few hundred zonked out, limb-flailing, drunk uber-hipsters in one little space and things are bound to get messy. Although I’m surprisingly sad there are less Batman gimmicks, it’s all very cool down at Arkham.

Arkham
Phone: +86-13701972878
Address: No.1 South WuLuMuQi Road, Shanghai

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Last Saturday night at The Shelter was a heady mix of soul and beats as Soul Brothers ’72 took over the low-ceilinged basement on YongFu Road, and I barely noticed the bouncers as we paid out 40RMB cover, though word on the net of gives them some unconfirmed but unsavoury press. Still that may have something to do with my blood alcohol levels at that time. The bar/club is a tightly enclosed underground with a red-lit, neon, dystopian dance-floor playing havoc in the dark against a blue-lit, exposed brick set of seated alcoves towards the back of the club which have a deep-freeze meets French wine-cellar feel.

There’s an eclectic range of music on offer every day of the week at Shelter, so it’s worth taking the three minutes to prepare yourself for the evening’s flavour, be it hardcore electro, hip-hop, funk or house. But if you’re up for reasonably priced drinks, some body flailing, or a plushly hip sit-down booze, The Shelter’s a good night for a big group of friends to do a take-over of a fairly moderately filled club.

The Shelter
Address: 5 Yongfu Lu, Xuhui, Shanghai

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PHEBE Club Shanghai Nightlife

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Phebe, located in none other than the French Concession area of Shanghai is on a Wednesday night, overflowing with ladies of all dressed to the nines –  and some not too shabby-looking lads who are apparently willing to pay the 100RMB cover in (+ 1 free drink). Ladies get MONDAY and WEDNESDAY free cover before midnight in exchange for supplying a working mobile number  (they check) with an open bar 0900-0400. Worrying.

If you’ve the honour of being a lady, you’ve no excuse not to pop in. From the hundreds of glowing red lanterns suspended from the ceiling and dark lacquer wood seating giving a wonderful faux-Chinese cultural decor, to the white and sketchily tuned grand piano centrepiece in the bathroom the club really is swish. If you’re there to appreciate the interior design that is.

Packed out across the numerous enclosed table areas, walkways and raised catwalk-esque dance floor, there’s barely space to take a breath on a ladies night where the writhing bodies in a healthy ratio of foreign to locals are always vying for a cheeky dance, drink or a swift exit to the bathroom for a tactical vom.

PHEBE: 3D Club
Tel: 021 6555 9998
Address: No. 10 Hengshan Lu, Xuhui, Shanghai

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Helens Shanghai Nightlife

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This famous expat and student bar is a chain that runs throughout China. I’ve been to Helens Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin to date, and I can say with certainty, that there must exist a ‘Helens-in-a-Box’ starter kit, because the decor, from the international flags to the wooden beams and strange faux stone-work walls are Exactly The Same wherever you go.

At 10RMB for a big bottle of Tsingdao as a standard across the board, it’s a nice, quiet hubbub and raucousness bar for students to have a couple of pints at the end of the day. If you want a serving traditional American-style bar food, I suggest you go early to get a seat. Certainly on ladies night Wednesday (with free drinks all night for 50RMB) be prepared to fight for a space just to stand.

On a less crowded Monday afternoon, a friend in Tianjin taught me a great trick of ordering a Helens ice cream (3RMB) and taking advantage of their Free Coffee Mondays.

Bliss.

Helens
Address: 49 Wuchuan Rd, Yangpu, Shanghai, China
Opening Hours: 1600-0200

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SOHO Club French Concession Shanghai Nightlife

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Soho isn’t the club on everybody’s “Go To” list, but it’s one that we’ve been to perhaps a few too many times. It’s a pecularity of Chinese clubs that a) smoking is allowed and b) the effects of excessive drinking will be tolerated. As a result of this, I always return home smelling like I’ve been cheerfully capering about in an ashtray, and I spend most of the (later) early hours in a club practising the time-earned art of narrowly dodging the drunken lurching of overly inebriated, and inevitably expat, assholes who seem to think I’ll react to inappropriate groping like the unfortunate female staff.

But don’t let that put you off.

 The music is loud enough to rupture several internal organs, and by the end of the night the ringing in my ears lasts well into my sleep. Pleasurable. There are Chinese dice-and-cup games (which I still haven’t been able to hear the name of; I’ve asked several times) on each table, us foreigners have been negotiating free entry, and us ladies a free drink.

On top of that, the 90% local Chinese capacity of the club are fairly subdued, sitting on the provided couches, engaging in dice with us when we pass and offering small tumblers of whiskey and ice; pleasant interactions galore. And to top it all off, the inside of the club is filled with massive white umbrella and globe-like structures that make it look like you’re suspended in a large plastic cloud.

What’s not to like about that?

SOHO
Address: 4 Hengshan Rd, Xuhui, Shanghai, China
Phone:+86 21 5469 9898

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Royal Meridien 789 Nanjing Lu Shanghai Nightlife

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Hel-lo to one of the classiest ladies night on the town, free Champagne flows on FRIDAY nights 2130-2330PM at the high flying 67th floor bar of the Royal Meridien Hotel on the PuXi side of the Bund. The dim, warm glowed setting, the floor-to-ceiling reinforced glass windows overlooking Shanghai’s commercial quarter, the gold-lit bar, intensely polite waiters and high-top chairs all give this location a distinct air of class…

Well, that is until the hoards of girls, Western and Chinese alike, arrive to shoulder, at any cost, their fair share of the various flutes of bubbly on offer. Grenadine bubbly, orange bubbly, and even mint bubbly is doled out into the vying flutes at the bar – and God forbid you put your glass down anywhere, as the one glass you get per evening is your only ticket to intoxication.

Royal Meridien: 789 Nanjing Lu
Phone: +86 21 3318 9999
Address: 789 Nanjing Road Pedestrian St, Huangpu, Shanghai, China

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Park Hyatt 100 Century Bar Shanghai Nightlife

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This particular venue is not for the faint-hearted. The beautiful Park Hyatt hotel is not just a towering landmark on the Pudong riverside of the Chinese Bund, it’s grandiose, high-ceilinged building houses the luxurious 100 Century Avenue bar and restaurant on its 97th floor. With a plush, dim-lit interior, hushed jazz music, and waiters so freakin’ attentive there’s almost definitely some sore of homing beacon involved in their training, there’s no beating about the bush as to the type of clientèle expected.

Yet, for those of us still fairly fortunate, it’s not entirely unreasonable to pop in on the 97th floor for a pot of tea (40RMB) or a house cocktail (80RMB) for a glimpse of the spectacular view. With a bit of persuasion, and a little patient waiting, one can even nab a splendid table right by the thick glass windows for the evening and look out over the third tallest building in China – the Jin Mao Tower.

P.S I hear the toilets are particularly swish.

Park Hyatt: 100 Century Avenue
Tel: +86 21 6888 1234
Address: 100 Century Avenue, Pudong, Shanghai, China, 200120

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There are certainly more excellent venues to add to this list of Shanghai Night Life, and even as I type this, Wechat is pinging about a certain Ladies Night at GloLondon… Looks like you might be seeing Post #2 sometime soon!

Till then

Charlotte xx

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Year Abroad: Design Arts Fashion Festival, Shanghai AW 2013

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As a study abroad twenty-something in the big city, it’s not the easiest think to find out where the best events are, the best meets are, or where you’re going to find other people similarily additcted to the creative arts. But thank goodness for The Ice Cream Truck, who tootled along on the 20th of September, bringing one of the biggest and bestest Design/Arts/Fashion collaborative events that Shanghai has to offer in the fall:

DAFF by The Ice Cream Truck.

DAFF Shanghai 2013: Catwalk

From the stunning location on Shanghai’s Puxi Bund, to the perfect weather, there was nothing about this event that wasn’t humming with the atmosphere of an event finely tuned. Looking chic in the cool breeze, the billowing, white tented stalls displayed the exploits of creative business scene here in Shanghai.

As I weaved through shoals of designers, creative-types, fashionestas, and big name brand reps who chilled in the ultra-cool outdoor venue to the unobtrusive house beat background the air was zinging with chatter and euphoria – nothing like this kind of break from city life!

The draughts and sweet snacks a-flowing, a wooded grass-garden rest area and not to mention the free entry with suggested 20RMB donation, blend to give the even a open and welcoming feel so that besides us creative junkies, the riverside event attracted students, shoppers, familys alike – upbeat generational and international mixing abound!

From the dozens of different designers and artists showcasing their wares at DAFF, there are pieces from every spectrum and to cater to bizarre tastes you maybe didn’t know you had. I can guarantee whether cutesy scented candles, eco-art, fresh, home-made organic food, or the wacky acrylic mould-injected necklaces, numerous fixie bikes and live art, there’s something for everyone…

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At 1630 and 1730 sharp, the crowds make a surge towards the psychedelic, colour-mix catwalk at DAFF as FASHION takes the limelight from the bustling tents and chattering strollers.

The Eastern-Western design fusion La Rose de Shanghai kicks of the show with an eclectic mix of traditional Chinese shapes on a black and white base, with splashes of print detail in bold primaries.

While some of the shapes are beautifully dramatic, the blooming trousers with tight calved fit, the floral detail crop waistcoat, some of the more streamlined pieces are a little to flat-fitting for my taste (and possibly my hips). The sharp, slicked bunned models sure did their strut, and I would have loved to see this combo with a softer make-up foundation complimenting the look.

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MORE PHOTOGRAPHY @ The Ice Cream Truck FACEBOOK

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FRONT ROW SHOP

Move over Topshop and Urban Outfitters cut-outs, the Front Row Shop hit the catwalk at 1730 and blew us away. Beautifully clean cuts with an oh-so-now grunge edge stormed the catwalk in platform-chunked, you do not want to mess with shoes. A real London-scene feel takes this collection with a diva-ish edge of “I’m wearing this. And what?”

The wicked shoes, layered pieces and to-die-for accessories are transfusions tapped straight from fashion week runways and given a street-struttable kick – and I’d back them on giving Zara TRF and H&M a run for their money any day. Set up in 2012 by the TaoBao designer Ying Wu, the wealth of people that have built behind the label give it a cutting-edge feel that I would die to walk off the catwalk with.

While they don’t have a physical store operating, their online website delivers world-wide and in this day and age, what can’t you do over the internet. Seriously, hit them up online…

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Front Row Shop Homepage 2013

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NIGHTFALL

As the walkers are wearying, night falls on DAFF and the event kicks up a notch as the bustle of light fixing and flicker of bulbs bringing a pretty, sultry glow on the events along the waterside. Keflione is finishing provocative artwork, with my appetite is perking up with the smell of food is hitting its peak; Pommery Champagne Happy Hour is over, but the DAFFTER PARTY is on its way.

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ONTO BUSINESS 

Before the night ends I bump into two brilliant creative women under the electric glow, Steffie Wu and Monkia Mogi (who you’ll be seeing more about soon in the ARTS and FASHION section of loseandfind.com). DAFF is a great way to meet with and connect to other all-things-creative types here in Shanghai, be it arts communities, marketing and design houses or even musicians and chefs. I even manage to make use of a few of my handmade business cards, and of course, get a few in return…

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As they say out here “You’re nobody in China if you don’t have a name-card”.
If you’re DESIGN/ARTS/FASHION is your thing, make sure I see you at the spring DAFF!

Thank you @TICTCREATIVE! You can check out more of their events on their WEBSITE, or FACEBOOK and as always, keep an eye out on SmartShanghai.com for everything that’s happening in this big ol’ city.

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Charlotte xx

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