Saturday, January 8, 2011

Changsha: The Nightlife

The nightclubs in Changsha have a reputation in China for... well, if you love crowds, raucous enthusiasm, drinking, smoking, great sound systems and DJs, dancing, and entertainment galore, you will love clubbing in Changsha. Doesn't matter if it's a Tuesday night or a Saturday night, the places are packed, and things don't cool down until 3AM or so. My first evening was Glamour Bar, wow, like a 3 ring circus on steroids... exotic dancers, various MCs presiding over vocal contests and comedic "game shows" (with volunteers taken from the crowd), BMX bike exhibitions, burlesque shows, and a techno dance bar in room 2. The most fun I'd had in years, and friendly doesn't begin to describe the locals. I arrived with my date at 9 and we worked our way up to the edge of an entertainment runway (leading from the stage to the bar). Moments later some guy stuck a smoke in my mouth, his friend lit it, and another handed me a fresh cold bottle of beer. Perhaps I was a welcome novelty, likely being the only American within miles... but the hospitality is genuine, and everybody in the club was all smiles, all night long.

An infectious camaraderie flows in crescendos and waves at Soho Bar as well (of which there are several all across China). On the Thursday night I was there it was standing room only, with the DJ spinning a variety of cutting edge American, British, and Chinese remixes. After an hour or so the lights suddenly dimmed and a sexy Chinese pop star emerged in the crowd to sing a few hits from her new album. She wandered from table to table with her wireless microphone and bodyguards. And an hour later, a male counterpart did the same. Just an average night out in Changsha, minimal cover charge.

The Chinese definitely like to cut it loose. I drank sweet green tea with whiskey on ice... damn good, give it a try sometime. While I was at Soho Bar two couples from the night before at Glamour Bar noticed me and came up to say hello. See? Friendly. Would that happen here in the states? Not as likely. The third night out was a small place, low key, but the bartender did magic tricks for me and my date. 5 stars for Changsha nightlife.

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