So this post is way overdue because I really should have done it the first time I came to China, but better late than never!
On my “must do” list of things to get up to in China when I first visited – and this was something most of us intended on doing – was going to a club. I was so curious to see how the Chinese party. Well Shanghai didn’t disappoint, I have nothing but fond memories of my few nights out at Club Phebe. A two floor club that was open 24/7, had a 100 yuan cover charge, limited open bar and free tequila shots, western and dance/techno music, had a dance platform by the DJ booth, a scantily clad female DJ, massage chairs by the bathrooms and friendly foreigners. Leaving Phebe early was a feat for the strong hearted.
Clubbing in Baoding, which has a very minute foreign population, is slightly different. The clubs have similar decor; luxe vip seating areas surrounding the main floor which has standing tables and dancing platforms (and there’s always one with a pole). The music is unfortunately always techno which gets redundant fairly quickly. No open bars but there’s no cover charge. Drinks are ridiculously pricey in the club which is the general rule however being China you would think they would be less pricey. The prices start at double or triple the items retail price. For the price of a shot, you can buy a whole bottle of the same liquor online!
A few things that made me do a second take when I first experienced them in Baoding/Shanghai:
- They serve fruit or sunflower seeds with your drinks: I guess they get a point for trying to keep you healthy while you party. And they don’t just chop up some fruit and serve it to you, the plating is always fancy.
- The performances are a bit….awkward: the dancers and promo girls always look angry with the world even though they may have been smiling or laughing off stage. Once they get on to the platform they get sour faced and miserable. Not very encouraging.
- Every now and then a singer will come and perform, always extravagantly dressed but it’s all to no avail because the crowd never reacts. They all just sit and stare stone faced.
- Sometimes strange things happen…like a clown making balloon animals for drunk adults….
- The toilets are all squatting toilets which rarely clean when being used by sober people so you can imagine the state they are in when intoxicated people are using them….*shivers*
- Some of the waiters are great pole dancers!
- Being black in Baoding attracts quite a bit of attention so it’s not strange to catch people trying to take pictures of you dancing. I guess a picture of a dancing black person trumps a picture of one standing still.
- Don’t approach Chinese people in the club to try and dance with them, they usually panic and run off. True story.
- If it gets too hot, you can just roll up your shirt…
Overall the Chinese don’t get too wild unless they are excessively drunk and so far I am yet to witness any serious incidents. Unlike Shanghai, the clubs in Baoding shut down at 3am. However, that’s not a disadvantage to me given the type of music they play. I’m usually ready to leave 2-3 hours after I arrive anyway.
My friends and I tend to prefer the bars to the clubs because at the bars they let us play our own music and sometimes we can get a private space to dance in. The bars also occasionally organize open bar nights for the foreign students too. Given our small foreign population, we’ve quickly formed a small group that goes out together and when we do, it’s always a good time!