Beijing has become avant-garde, in its own way. We already posted about the art scene – now a bit about the trendy club/dining scene.
Not too long ago, night life for foreigners in Beijing meant private dinner parties for the powerful or alcohol-soaked karaoke bars followed by visits to massage parlors for those so-inclined. Foreigners began introducing techno-music to locals hungry for sounds from the outside world in the 1990s.
By the end of the decade, all-night parties on the Great Wall were drawing hundreds of Chinese and foreign “technoravers”. The gatherings were banned two years ago after reports surfaced in the state-controlled news media. Now only high-fashion shows and extravagant 7-course dinner parties, at close to $1000 per plate, are de rigueur for the rich and famous. A few photos of our May dinner party (phenomenal) are attached.
Evoking glitzy clubs around the globe are the Lan Club – to my liking – I went twice and GT Banana (not my scene, but maybe yours).
If Philippe Starck is to your taste, you’ll love the Lan Club – the summum of Beijing ostentation. Rubens look-alike paintings adorn the ceilings and the loos are all silver and mirrors with commodes like thrones (photo attached). You’ll see plenty of pretty young Chinese ladies sporting their Kelly bags, Pink Vuitton purses and less-pretty expat bankers in Armani fare. I was warned about the food, but actually found it quite good, if not a tad pricey. The king crab is exceptional. Staff forbid photography but can be flexible if you smile, tip and flatter. When we were there (midweek), the place was not busy. Our DJ was from Monaco, charming and very pleased to speak French. Apparently, they regularly bring in big DJ’s and the clientele is more plentiful on weekends.
GT Banana, a 3-storey club in Chaoyang District, pulsates to techno beats, features foppish dancers in cages and a whole lot more. The entrance, next to a Bentley dealership, features life-sized plastic palm trees. Once in, one wonders if it’s the interior of the space shuttle or a Hollywood mansion. The crowd is young, nouveau riche and the drinks are expensive. The music did not appeal to my forty-something ears, nor did the décor, but this is all a matter of taste.
For dinner, the Green Tea House is worth a visit. Every dish – whether salad, soup, meat or fish – uses green tea as an ingredient. The Chinese have appreciated the benefits of tea for centuries and, much like the Brits, they nigh on worship it. The décor is lovely – minimalist, white, new age, sticks everywhere… the service is good. I liked it enough, but they could improve on the food, given the price.