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Nightlife in Beijing

Beijing's nightlife and entertainment scene is undergoing something of a revolution, as modern Beijingers seek to offload disposable income their parents never even dreamt of. Throughout the 1990s, numerous new nightclubs were set up to cater for a chic and affluent clientele and new ones continue to open all the time. The music at these Western-style clubs covers a wide range, with techno and house being hugely popular and international ‘superstar DJs' performing with increasing regularity. Many nightclubs are open nightly until the small hours of the morning and charge entrance fees of between RMB100 and 200.

The most popular bar area (heavily frequented by foreigners) is Sanlitun, in the northeast of the city. The bars here all offer draught beer at Western prices, and are generally much livelier than any of the hotel bars. New bar districts are opening up all the time, particularly in Chaoynag District near Workers' Stadium, the lakeside area of Houhai, and along Lotus Lane on the northern bank of the Ba River. Most bars open until about midnight but are liveliest around 2200.

Bars: Situated in the older part of  Chaoyang's Sanlitun bar district are the ever-popular Poachers Inn, 43 Bei Sanlitun Lu, and the equally welcoming pub, The Tree, 43 Bei Sanlitun Nan, - the latter serving over 40 Belgian beers and excellent pizza. Beijing's weekend bar du jour is Browns, Nansanlitun Lu (above The Loft), which offers a long wooden bar for late-night table-top dancing, 366 different shooters and an atmosphere of convivial excess. Passby Bar, 108 Naluogu Xiang, Dongcheng District, is a hip, relaxed and ambient bar located in an old hutong. Bed, 17 Zhangwang Hutong, Xicheng District) is a minimalist lounge bar in a renovated hutong house with an uber-cool minimalist décor, with undressed cement floorings and walls, and beds for its ‘beautiful people' clientele to sit on. World of Suzie Wong, 1A Nongzhanguan Lu by the west gate of Chaoyang Park, is an elegant and stylish faux-1930s throwback that serves killer daiquiris.

Clubs: Undoubted king of clubs is the cavernous Vics, inside Workers Stadium north gate, which mixes up a nightly thrash of soul, R&B, pop and reggae and is popular with visiting celebrities and music stars. JJ's, 74-76 Xinjiekou Bei Dajie, packs ‘em in at weekends and features lasers, a sci-fi theme and scantily-clad Russian dancing girls; imported British DJs play a mixture of techno, reggae and house. Tango, South Gate of Ditan Park, Dongcheng District, is another superclub with a giant dance floor, smaller lounge bar and live music. Opened in 2006, Club Fusion, A8 Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang District, is a haven of house and electronica and a promised line-up of guest spots from touring international DJs.

Live Music: Local rock bands perform regularly at What Bar, which has two locations, West Yuandadu Bar Street, Chaoyang District (tel: (10) 8461 4683), and 72 Beicheng Jie, Xicheng District (tel: (10) 133 4112 2757). Tucked away in the car park beyond the north gate of Workers' Stadium is Yugong Yishan, 1 Gongti Bei Lu, Chaoyang District (tel: (10) 6415 0687), a throbbing live music venue which hosts everything from rock to jazz and improv to DJ sets. Live jazz sets top the bill from Thursday to Sunday at the East Shore Live Jazz Café, 2/F, 2 Qianhai Nanyan Lu, Xicheng District (tel: (10) 8403 2131), owned by legendary jazzman Liu Yuan.

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