Chinese New Year: Best Bars in Shanghai

lune shanghai

Former Shanghai resident, Carol Bowditch, tells us about the best places to whet-your-whistle there to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

It was Chinese New Year on Friday, with 2014 bringing a change of the zodiac, transitioning from snake to horse – like a fucked up episode of Animorphs. Being a great time of year for celebration, drinking, nice times with friends and family and blowing shit up like there’s no tomorrow, I thought I’d get in the spirit and share a load of great drinky spots in my favourite Chinese city, Shanghai.

I was in a taxi going out for the first time in Shanghai when I attempted to read out an address in my Australian accent. The driver turned and front seat saying, “ah yes, beer street” followed by a wink. I was definitely not disappointed. DADA and, slightly further down the road, lOgO (raised from the ashes of its former self) was not a tourist spot or an Australian-themed joint (there is one on Shanghai). Both clubs have a similar vibe, crowds tend to go back and forth between the two on any given night.

Where: DADA 115 Xingfu Lu, near Fahuazhen LulOgO 298 Xingfu Lu, near Pingwu Lu
Good for: Late night electro and heavy dancing.

The Shelter
Shanghai’s answer to Berghein, a gritty underground bunker that offers deep house/drum n bass/industrial techno alternatively on most nights. The cave-like surrounds, concreted booths and very low ceilings make for an interesting atmosphere. Clientele can vary from long-haired goths to short-skirted party girls far from the Bund, it’s worth a look.

Where: 5 Yongfu Lu, Xuhui
Good for: Drugged-up diverse crowd and thumping beats. Not for the claustrophobic.

YuYingTang (YYT Livehouse)
I saw King Khan & The BBQ Show, Teengirl Fantasy and Vasco Era here among other international acts of varied genres in this medium-sized (usually at capacity) venue. It’s a great spot to check out bands rotating on the growing Shanghai scene also. The outside garden is a nice touch when things get too sweaty inside.

Where: 851 Kaixuan Lu, Changning
Good for: Live bands (both Shanghainese and international).

Decorated in theme of a Rubik Cube (pictured top), this joint has a similar vibe to lOgO (due to the same management), albeit a little tidier, more relaxed and houses a superior sound system. Probably a better option for a quieter night out with your mates. You can also battle it out on the Foosball table if that’s your thing. There are bands and DJ’s, but if you’re looking for a more raucous time, opt for my previous listings.

Where: 218 Xinle Lu, Xuhui
Good for: Conversations that aren’t yelled, popular tunes, varsity vibes.

Hot tips: Many Shanghai residents may be visiting their families in other provinces in greater China, it’ll be far less crowded and you may not have the same experience at this time of the year. Also, you may as well be out all night every night for the entirely of the Spring Festival as those remaining in the city will be letting off fireworks (lots of them) anywhere, at anytime of the day or night. Sleep may not be an option. You have been warned.



Words by Carol Bowditch.