Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Clubbin' in China

BAR BLUE AND 3.3 in Beijing
It was our last night in Beijing but still the beginning of our trip. We were all so excited to see the city at night. Our tour guide, Jeff, brought us to the bar street. We took two taxi's which separated and nearly gave Jeff a heart attack when we couldn't find each other. But we eventually did. A white man on the street gave us a flyer for Club 3.3 and invited us to it, proclaiming the greatness of the French DJ's that would be battling. We headed down the street, on a mission to find 3.3 which we did find, not yet opened. So we went back to a bar for a beer to chill and wait. On one side of the road were rows of tents that migrant construction workers slept in. They stood outside their tents looking across the street into the bars at all the patrons having a good time, unable to afford a drink themselves. Meanwhile we kept hearing foreigners talk about "Bob-blue". "What was 'Bob-blue'?" we wondered. So we started walking around looking for a club by that name.

I saw a produce vendor and bought a cluster of big juicy lychees. I gave some to a child and before I knew it I was surrounded by children begging and grabbing at the lychees. I gladly shared them. It was night time in a dark and busy alley. It was sad that these kids were still wandering. At the end I gave my final lychees to a small four year old and his mom. I couldn't have brought them in the bar with me anyway.

One of the children overheard us talking about "Bob-blue" "Bob-blue"?! he said excitedly and then started pulling my hand in the opposite direction. We followed and sure enough we were soon standing right under it. We went in and found a neon sign lighting the stairwell, announcing "Bar Blue". OOOOH. Bar Blue! It was a small bar with sports on TV (mostly rugby). There was a strange Chinese girl who danced with herself in the mirror all night.
Some of us had a drink, others of us (mostly the girls) took to the empty dance floor where the DJ played techno music and we had a blast, banging out our craziest, stupidest dance moves like: the sprinkler, lawn mower, shopping cart, running man, the doe-c-doe, and we even got a Konga line going with some Chinese girls.

(me, dancing with random Chinese girls)

Then we went to the rooftop, where many foreigners were gathered, for some contemplation and moments of awe, staring out at the city below reminding ourselves over and over "We're in Beijing". In front of us was a taller building and on the rooftop was 3.3. Having experienced all Bar Blue had to offer we headed next door. In the dark pathway heading out of the building I took this picture of the most random mural of Jesus in the most unusual place.

3.3 was a laid back roof-top with couches forming semi-circles for different groups to sit at. It was mostly foreigners and the "amazing" DJ sucked. He refused to play/didn't know any of my requests even though we were the only people dancing. We stayed about an hour and then went back to the hotel feeling slightly cheated out of an "authentic" Chinese club experience.

Club 2 in Suzhou

Our first real club experience and it was fabulous. It was huge and jam-packed with locals and a good DJ. there was no entrance fee but a minimum drink purchase which we took care of by going in a quart of vodka and tang. The bartenders wore animal ears. Meredith got to keep a pair. We took to the dance floor and got on the little stage in front of the DJ booth and danced our butts off. After an hour or two the music stopped and next thing we knew there was a "Cats" performance on the multiple stages. It was bootleg, of course, but totally awesome nonetheless. After 1 1/2 songs one of the students wanted to go so we left, having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

CD in Shanghai (though the locals seemed to refer to it as "Johnny Walker")

It was this big, wild club with a white DJ who played techno music and a had a mind boggling light show. The men who danced on the dance floor were somewhere between dorky and perverted. But we Americans got the place hopping. The DJ played a "Jump Around" remix and we went crazy on dance floor, getting the crowd to join us and pack it out. After that, the bartender, who I had been flirting with earlier, (the only cute guy in the whole place) offered me and all my friends a free drink. He presented us with the most beautiful array of rainbow colored drinks in champagne glasses with foot long flutes and no base - all shooting out of a vase-like container and live flares for each of us. The alcohol went down like juice. I think the DJ was just happy that we got the place going. The only thing a little disturbing was the cocaine usage and the video screen with the picture of a fetus in a pill and the word "high". We left after a few hours but unwilling to call it a night we walked back to the hotel. We presented people with our hotel card along the way and got directions via gestures. The night grew somber as we came closer to the hotel and walked through some neighborhoods filled with homeless families; young and old alike sleeping on the sidewalk.

DEEP in Shanghai
Our second night in Shanghai. Niko and Meredith wanted to go to a gay club and I wanted to join them. So they googled "gay club Shanghai" but were frustrated by the lack of map quest or Google Maps for the city. So after some complicated configuring Niko decided on what he thought was the closest one: Deep. We wrote the name of the park it was in and had the hotel desk lady translate it into Chinese. Then we hopped into a cab, gave the driver the paper and hoped for the best. He laughed a deep laugh under his breath and we nudged each other and smiled - taking it as a good sign that he understood our destination correctly. It is always a little nerve wrecking to be in a taxi for a long ride and not know for sure if you'll end up in the right place. You watch the meter and hope that it doesn't go too high. But he pulled over within fifteen minutes and we see a sign for the park we were looking for and he even points to it so we know we're in the right place. We excitedly get out and walk through the park. We notice a strange wooden sign that we all comment on and continue going past the park. We find, on the other side of the street Club Windows, a hip-hop club we plan on hitting up tomorrow. Then we turn back, on a mission to find Deep. To our surprise there is a huge neon sign for it, lit up, right next to the wooden sign we had previously commented on. How could we have missed it? Surely it wasn't lit up a moment ago, we all decided. We walked down a dark path with trees lining both sides. This had to be the best three minutes of the entire China trip as we made our way down a secret path to the left to a club that no foreigner could ever stumble upon by accident. This was an authentic Chinese experience if ever we had one.

Inside we were greeted with a poster board covered in pictures of all the happy couples who had met there. There was a small bar and a few tables around. Apparently the upstairs was much bigger and we caught the bar on a quiet night. We sat at the bar and had a drink. Water for me, since I had just found out I was pregnant earlier that day. Soft jazz music played in the background and we just drank and talked. It was really peaceful. What struck me about the whole thing was that going to a gay club, for my friends, wasn't about sex or meeting someone. It was just merely about being in a place where they could be themselves for an hour. Where there was no societal games to play or assumptions made about them or explanations to give about who they are. They could just be there and, for one hour, be gay with no questions asked. When I describe this trip as "life changing" the most life changing part of all was what I learned about the gay community. As open minded as I was before (see March 15th post) my views are even more liberal now and I consider myself a huge supporter of the gay community.
wow. that was deep. ha ha. Get it? Deep?

We decided to walk home - part way anyway. It was night but there were still some vendors out, mostly selling hot food to the locals. We sat down on a stone ledge for a rest on one of the dark empty streets. All of a sudden three men came tearing up the street towards us. One disappeared and the other, on a bike, was chasing the third - yelling out about his stolen bag. They made a U-turn right in front of us. The whole thing happened so fast it was jolting but by the time they left we figured out that the two runners had worked together. Successfully, it seemed.

WINDOWS in Shanghai

Our last night in China and we were anxious to party at a real hip-hop club. We knew Windows was going to be all we were hoping for because we had seen it the day before. It took us a little while to find each other after taking separate taxis, but, as usual, we eventually did. The club was a small boxy room that opened up to an outdoor table area. The bar was on the left side immediately adjacent to the dance floor. There was a pool table on the right side of the room and several tables. The DJ was black, most likely American; and the patrons were almost all foreigners. In fact, Meredith and I described the club, in separate conversations, with the exact same description (which I think is hilarious)... We both said "Every black person in Shanghai was there! All four of them!" The music was refreshingly home-style. He played ALL the good songs. We danced and danced and danced. There was a stage area which I, for once, didn't partake in. I think I was starting to feel the affects of pregnancy. I was also really annoyed with all the whorish dancing by the females. gag me.

When we first got there not many were dancing, but this Chinese break dancing troupe got the party started. They were the first Chinese I had seen in the whole two weeks that could actually dance. I was convinced that they were American. One of them even looked Mexican. So I asked them if they were American. But they said they were Chinese. I told them they were great dancers. Their girl-friends though were annoying. All they knew how to do was shake their bodies and they thought they were all that.

There was this really drunk white kid. He was all over the dance floor with his Chinese date. Early on in the night he grabbed Ytat's hat off his head and started playing with it. Ytat calmly took it back but I was furious. I couldn't decide if I wanted Ytat to knock him out or to let it be, not start trouble on the last night in China. For the rest of the night I went out of my way to avoid this trouble maker because I was afraid I was going to have to knock him out.
At the bar I got into conversation with another white, male, college student from the Midwest. I ordered two waters and he teased me for ordering just water so I explained that I was pregnant. He was both shocked and horrified, at the same time. But I flashed the wedding ring and told him it was a good thing. Still aghast, he asked how old I was. I wisely neglected to tell him that this was my fourth since it probably would have gave him a cardiac.

Niko and I wanted to leave before the others so we started to walk home. He wanted to try to find the worry dolls that he had seen on the walk home from Deep. It was much later in the night this time though and none of the street vendors were out. It was a peaceful walk through the dark quiet streets of China and after an hour he hailed a cab by making a funny noise and this cab which was whizzing by made a U turn at this big empty intersection. It was amusing. By the time we got back to the hotel all the party goers were already back. We all hung out a little more and then turned in for our bittersweet last night in China.



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