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Drinking and nightlife


Western-style bars are found mostly in the Huaihai Lu area, nearly all of which serve food, and some of which have room for dancing. Bars tend to cluster in districts; Julu Lu, Tongren Lu and Maoming Nan Lu each have a dense concentration of venues, though some have a sleazy edge. There are also plenty of rather more upmarket places for a drink in Xintiandi.

You’ll find the full range of drinks available, though beer is usually bottled rather than draught and prices are on the high side; reckon on ¥30–60 per drink in most places. This hasn’t stopped the development of a jumping, occasionally sleazy, nightlife, though the scene is patently focused on expats and the moneyed Chinese elite.

The club scene will be eerily familiar to anyone who’s been clubbing in any Western capital – you won’t hear much in the way of local sounds – but at least door prices are much cheaper, never more than ¥100. One Chinese innovation is the addition of karaoke booths at the back; another, much less welcome, is the annoying practice of having to pay to sit at a table. Most places have international DJs, and plenty of famous faces have popped in for a spin of the decks. Wednesday is (usually) ladies night, Thursday is hip-hop night, and, of course, the weekends are massive. There are also dance floors in bar Rouge, Dada, NOT ME and Zapatas, reviewed below.

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