22 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District
EAST is definitely a hotel that stands out among all the incredible hotels shooting up every day. Catering to the smart, creative business traveler, it’s right next to 798 Art District and it’s not too far from the airport either, making it the perfect headquarters for a quick weekend trip to Beijing. If you still have energy after you’ve spent the day navigating the horrors of the capital’s highways, the hotel bar XIAN has live music, a laid-back lounge, a games room as well as an outdoor terrace.
No. 81, Jidian Yanjiuyuan Compound, Sanlitun Nanlu, Chaoyang District
Ink is a newcomer to Beijing´s nightlife scene. A cross between a club and a high-end cocktail lounge, it started out with the very specific purpose of playing House music in all its variations – from soulful house through deep house – but is slowly opening up to the idea of playing other genres as well. For those of you who like it private, a plush VIP space upstairs offers the perfect place to break open that first magnum of champagne.
Rm 101, Bldg B, 206 Gulou Dong Dajie, Dongcheng District
Originally from Shanghai, Dada branched out into Beijing´s hipster Gulou District in the autumn of 2013. Since then it has not only brought a lot of deep thudding bass music into the capital but it has also given local promoters a great venue to host their alternative nights until late into the wee hours of the night. Cheap drinks, a decent sound system and a healthy mix of young local Chinese and foreigners conspire to make Dada the go-to bar for a fun, unpretentious and possibly very raucous night out.
40 Beiluoguxiang, opposite Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District
Sometimes you just want to get lost in those old Beijing hutongs but they’re becoming fewer and further between. Mai Bar is a gem hidden in these vanishing streets and has a lovely old world feel. Quiet and elegant, you’ll have to be in the know to know about it. In fact, if someone doesn’t take you, you’ll probably never find it.
21 Liang Ma Qiao Lu
Next door to an old drive-in cinema, this dive bar cum live music venue was founded by two good friends (hence the Chinese name which literally means ‘two good friends’) and has become a place of legend. It’s the sort of place where practically anything can happen, and usually does. Local rock stars will be getting drunk with the owner after a secret gig while a Spanish theatre company strips naked on the stage and a French celebrity author is getting drunk outside on the patio. This is the perfect embodiment of the spirit of Beijing, a place where everyone is an equal and people who act like VIPs will most likely get thrown to the curb.
100m north of Worker’s Stadium West Gate, Gongti Xilu, Chaoyang District
After Haze closed its doors, there’s only one true Techno club left in the Chinese capital. And, of course, it is underground – literally. When you go down the steps into the spacious Lantern dungeon you´ll feel the deep vibrations of the bass-line that’ll remind you of the deepest, darkest, most underground clubs of Berlin’s underbelly. If a heavy four to the floor is what you need, then you need to find your way to Lantern.
West courtyard former site of Duan Qirui Government, 3-2 Zhangzizhong Lu
If you’ve studied hard and know your Chinese proverbs, you’ll know that Yugong Yishan is the story of the old man who moved mountains. It’s an appropriate name because this small venue that started across the road from the Beijing Workers’ Stadium has grown into a model for the Chinese live music scene, and is arguably the most influential of them all. With a capacity of 700 people, this the place to come to see local heroes such as Hedgehog or Nova Heart as well as some international stars.
Nali Patio 6th floor, 81 Sanlitun Bei Lu
Migas started as a Spanish restaurant in the spring of 2010. But when summer came, they unveiled their stunning roof-terrace. Parties such as Funk Fever and Dance Dangereux ensured that to a generation of Beijingers, that summer would forever be remembered as ‘the summer of Migas’. In fact, it was such a great summer, they doubled the size of the roof-top in 2011. Since then, it’s been a summer favourite every year and you can sip a ginger Mojito overlooking Sanlitun while dancing (in the packed crowd) to a good mix of house, (nu-)disco and funk tunes.