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Beijing Nightlife

There shouldn't be any doubt about the first connection appearing in young locals' minds, when someone mentions Beijing nightlife - it must be Sanlitun (三里屯). You can sense the feeling of pride even when they pronounce the three characters - a charming and inclusive implication reminding you that it's theirs, but you can enjoy. Surely it's the place of the leading rank for multiple purposes of the night visit, if not the first. It's a start to enjoy a traditional and modern capital that exudes this twist everywhere, all the time. So let's begin to explore Beijing's nightlife by summarizing Sanlitun and its represented bar street culture first.

Bar Street Culture: Mixed, traditional and Artistic
Sanlitun -- the Representation of Beijing Bar Street Culture

There is no denial that because of its approach to Beijing's Central Business District, Sanlitun is born with wealthy atmosphere. And since within walking distance nearby the street there is the reputed Beijing Workers' Stadium, for great concerts that burns the energy as well as the illusive future, or more accurately say rock music's glamour. That's why nearly any bars there are equipped with live bands, to share with you about thoughts upon life, and even more, how to change the world in such a quiet late mid-night. It is idealistic purpose oriented, and it can be a bar street in the meantime.

Bars/Pubs to Choose:

  • SWING (云胜酒吧): a rock bar born in 1994, the earliest Sanlitun bar that represents its style
    Add.: No. 58 North Street, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District
    Tel.: +86-010-64159196
  • NO.52: 52 kinds of cocktails, classic Italian food
    Add: No. 52 North Street, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District
    Tel.: +86-010-64164697
  • Bar Blu (蓝吧): standard British pub for drinks and delicacy on the rooftop
    Add: The 4th Floor Tongli Building, No. 43 North Street Sanlitun, Chaoyang District
    Tel.: +86-010-64174124
  • Minders (明大餐吧): one of the earliest bars always of full capacity
    Add: Intersection of South Street, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District
    Tel.: +86-010-65006066
  • Suzie Wong Club (苏西黄): lush, nostalgic, artistic oriental hybrid (music and dance)
    Add: 1A Nongzhanguan Road near Chaoyang Park, Chaoyang District
    Tel.: +86-010-65936049
  • NASHVILLE(乡遥酒吧): Jazz pub of 20 years' history (very good food)
    Add: Middle Haoyun Street, No. 1-22 Chaoyang Park Road, Chaoyang District
    Tel.: +86+010-58670298
South Luogu Lane -- the most Ancient Street District

South Luogu LaneSouth Luogu Lane has gathered Beijing's most ancient Hutongs and also enshrined the courtyards most completely preserved. That's why it is commented this district has kept the most down-to-earth bar street nightlife, tranquil, simple and local. It's more like appreciation upon the traditional architectural elements at night rather than pure alcohol consumption or sensational satisfaction. The trivial yet implicating windows, door heads and lantern forms vary from bars and stores, let alone displays in it.

  • How to get there: Metro Line 8 South Luogu Lane Station, Dongcheng Distric
798 Art District -- Artistically Enjoy the Wine

798 Art DistrictYou can understand the alcohol here is just for art creation, not the other way around. The reputed 798 Art District was renovated from former German factory of Bauhaus style, hence the bars here have been instilled industrial atmosphere: high ceiling with loft interior design, rich choices on what to drink, plus the opportunities to randomly recognize an alcoholic artist.

Compared to Sanlitun, here you have to be adept at either art history, or art glossaries, or art genres in order not to feel lonely. The activities in these bar venues appear to be more civilized as well. The main pastime consumption should be a cup of coffee with the companion from illustrative books, advertising posters or experimental dramas, rather than the rock fever or the meditation on tradition.

  • How to go there: Dashanzi Bar Street, Metro Line 14 South Wangjing Station, Chaoyang District
Theatre after Theatre's Chase-after
Acrobatic Show at Chaoyang Theater

acrobatic showAbout half an hour's walk from Sanlitun to Chaoyang Theater will render you the visual surprise at the extreme disobedience against the regularity and order. And this is the most complicating acrobatic show in Beijing that itself is the recorder of such an art form's evolution.

Fascinating lighting installation as it is well accompanied, the emphasis upon the adoption of the traditional Chinese daily utility is very easily noticed, such as the paper umbrellas and fans, the utensils like bowls, plates, as well as the actors/actresses' delicately designed costumes.

  • How to get there: 36 North East Third Ring Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
  • Hot line: +86 135 5252 7373
  • Price: RMB280-880 ($42-132), 3 shows daily (16:00/17:30/19:00)
Legend of Kung Fu at Red Theatre

Kung FuUnlike many other Kung Fu shows that demonstrate only fight and human bodies'endurance, this one is of the spirit, and mortal humans'growth story and endeavour of resisting against desire. It talks about a little monk called Chun Yi (meaning the pure and one), how he managed to defeat all kinds of secular and mental torture, and finally realized the true Zen Buddhism and became a master.

It very perfectly combines the hard point of the martial art with the soft point of the drama and aims at not just a visual understanding upon the martial art's robustness, but also a psychological understanding upon why it originates from the Middle-Kingdom, how people here regard the hardness and how the strength from the spirit wins over the physical.

  • How to get there: No. 44, Xingfu Dajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing
  • Hot line: +86 135 5252 7373
  • Price: RMB 200-880 ($30-132, more than 30% discount may apply if booking online), 2 shows daily: 17:15/19:30
Peking Opera at Liyuan Theater

Peking OperaAuthentic Peking Opera includes not only the costumes with colourful flags at the back, the bubble coronas with long whip-shape pheasant tails, but also how the audience should sit and be treated - all are rich in Chinese set of etiquette. From the Baixian Table (a square table with 8 seats, each direction 2) to the long-mouth tea pots, the audience as well as the waiters/waitress all indulge themselves into this simulated scenarios.

It is noticed that Peking Opera originally didn't come from Beijing, but it flourishes here, as the consequence of royal favour. Now it's already part of the dynasty culture, exactly like the contents of Peking Opera themselves -- always the concentrations of classic stories about common people’s fight and royal families' vicissitude.

  • How to get there: Qianmen Jianguo Hotel, 175 Yongan Road, Xicheng District, Beijing
  • Hot line: +86 135 5252 7373
  • Price: RMB120-400 ($18-60, discounted), 2 stories daily: 17:30
Comic Dialogues/Cross Talks: Popular Art's Glamour

Comic DialoguesAlthough originating from the north of China, comic dialogues/cross talks have been accepted as the national popular art's representation that through some passionate professionals' promotion, become now revived. The seats are sometimes expensive, and the contents can be very daily, but the format and the rubrics are still quite fixed, accompanied by the traditional long gown costumes. Among all these organizations, Deyunshe might be the most famous one where "she" can be interpreted like a society, and "Deyun" signifies virtue and cloud accordingly. Although now it does have "subsidiaries" nationwide, in Beijing one can still be proud perhaps to appreciate the most authentic performance from the masters.

  • Notice: Usually the talks start between 19:15-22:00 every day except on Monday
  • Add.: A1 Beiwei Road, Xuanwu District (德云剧场)
  • Hotline: +86-010-63040912
Casually Eat, Shop and Have fun
Gui Street 簋街 -- the Gourmet Leader

Gui StreetWithin the street about 90% of stores are restaurants - it’s a street of delicacies worthy of its name (簋 means a bronzeware for cooked food). Running 24 hours a day, Gui Street particularly suits for gourmets in pursuit of world food gathering. The best flavour there is spicy, which is just in accordance with the red lanterns seen everywhere. What might surprise you is the popularity of spicy seafood like crabs and tiny lobsters there that seems to be very irrelevant to Beijing’s geographical location yet leads to the city's food fashion.

  • How to get there: Metro Line 2 Dongzhimen Station, Dongcheng District
Niujie Muslim Snack Street 牛街 -- Religiously Eat

Niujie Muslim Snack StreetActing as the assembly area for Muslims, Niu Jie and its foods inevitably behave as the cultural hybrid of the local and the minor ethnic groups. The mutton and beef here have ranked first in Beijing and the flour-made pastries have so genuine flavour. Together with fresh dairy drinks and desserts, Muslims have managed to adapt to Beijing's snack genre yet still reserved its original preference. You can even encounter the plainest Beijing snacks, rough but numerous. It's a proper spot at night for inspection upon Chinese ethnicity policy as nothing is franker than food's combination and its harmonious existence.

  • How to get there: Metro Line 7 Guang' anmen Station, Xicheng District
Dashilar 大栅栏儿 -- A balance of delicacy, artifacts and designer brands community

DashilarDashilar, a pronunciation that has evolved from the local dialect, originally manifested a fence for the prevention from burglars. Acting once as the central district of traditional Beijing, it used to be the hub for the Hutong residents' entertainments. Sharing all the newly renovated commercial district's characteristics, it sells most authentic local artifacts that nights grant them mysterious atmosphere and probably more chance for cheaper prices. Nowadays part of Dashilar has developed into a design community with courtyards waiting to be rented to artists and designers. It would be anticipating to see how these housemates help form a brand-new or a consecutive style on Dashilar's night life profiles.

  • How to get there: Metro Line 2 Qianmen Station, Xicheng District

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