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Day 115 – Models, Cocaine, and Germans (Shanghai Nightlife)

June 26, 2010

Dateline: Shanghai, China – Saturday, June 26, 2010

Considering how late I was out last night, I got up early today. Bri sent me a text offering to crash his place for the duration of my stay in Shanghai. Free accommodation is hard to refuse, so I played impromptu couchsurfer and took over his guest room. Beatrice and Lindsey had crashed his place the two nights before, so basically he swapped me out for them. They’d had a rougher few hours than I, considering we were all out until 3 a.m. and they had to be at the airport for the Beijing flight at 7 a.m.

After I’d moved my stuff, Bri and I headed to brunch on the Bund at a place called New Heights. A substantial brunch and bottle of white later, we headed out for a walk past the Bund and down Nanjing Road, which is mostly closed to automobile traffic. Swarms of Chinese tourists crowded the streets. It’s like Times Square in New York City with the Chinese equivalent of out-of-towners from Kansas and Mississippi flocking to kitschy stores and tourist trap restaurants.

Bri is Black and as we walked he recounted his experience visiting the Bund with a Black friend of his. All the Chinese country folk kept stopping them to take pictures and touch them. That was fun for a while, but the more pictures they took, the more people asked. In the end, they could barely move down the river’s edge for all the tourists flocking to them and ignoring the big buildings across the river. For all the advancements this country’s made, it’s TIC all over again.

We end up getting massages at a place recommended by Bri’s friend’s wife. A nice cap to a long day of walking. Don’t be fooled, though. This is Shanghai. That means there’s a party to go to.

This one’s at a friend of a friend’s place in the suburbs of Shanghai. The friend is Michelle a half German, half Trinidadian female friend of Bri’s. She’s five ten, dark haired, and speaks with a German accent. The friend of Michelle is Von, an equally tall Indonesian-German. That’s right. An Indonesian who is German. For a moment, I empathize with the Chinese who are bewildered by me not speaking Mandarin—here’s a giant Indonesian woman who speaks with a German accent. It’s kind of hard not to do a double take.

The party is a mix of Indonesians, a ton of Germans, and the United Nations crew of Bri, Michelle, Dawson (from Tennessee), and me. There are a few Filipinos thrown in for good measure. The dance floor features Asians who can actually dance (go island people!), Germans who engage in dance-like movements, and a whole lot of empty space.

At one point, an older German woman pulls out a bag of weed and starts to roll the fattest joint I’ve ever seen. I’m no stranger to pot (hello, San Francisco) but it was about as ambitious a roll as I’d ever seen and I said so. She looked up at me and gave me the finger. “Are you rolling this joint or me?” she said. Then she gave me the finger again. Wow. When old German ladies get high, they get nasty. Guess I’ve gotten accustomed to the more California surfer dude stoners. Have to say I prefer my potheads a bit more rasta.

The spread featured German fare including sausages, potatoes, hunks of beef and lamb, and a token salad. No complaints here. I stuffed my face with potatoes and compressed meat.

We left the party after midnight. Since this is China, that meant we had to go to another club called Velvet. From there it was off to an old school bar with a selection of scotch that alcoholics see in their sleep. By then, the U.S.-Ghana game had started, so we headed off to an American bar to watch the game which, mind you, started at 2:30 a.m.

The U.S. went down a goal. At halftime the American bar owner played a series of American songs which included “Born in the U.S.A.” and the Team America Anthem (“America, F*** yeah!). We bounced to Mao, a club next door for the second half, but the club inexplicably shut down the TV just as the game went to extra time.

I abandoned the club and headed next door to watch the overtime. The bar had filled with more people by now, including a group of Nigerians who rooted loudly for Ghana. The night ended in disappointment, of course. I consoled a fellow American by saying, “Americans may suck at soccer, but at the end of the day, we’re still Americans.” He agreed there were worse fates in this world. It still sucked.

I headed back to Mao to find the place still packed. It was 5 a.m. For some reason, the crowd now included a bunch of tall, skinny Russian girls and beefy Russian guys. Bri explained that these were all Russian models who usually make their appearance late. I asked why so late and he said, “It’s the cocaine.” He wasn’t joking. I believe him.

We rolled out into the street just as light was breaking over the horizon. Of course, even at dawn, there was a line—an honest to god line of people—waiting to get into Mao.

All around, the bars were emptying of soccer fans, many downtrodden Americans. Locals on motorbikes were already heading off to work.

Have I mentioned that China is insane? I’ve been to NYC and even that can’t compete with the late nights here. And it’s not just a few places. It’s the whole city. Really, between the rain, World Cup, and the long nights, I have no idea when I’ll see the sun in Shanghai.

GALLERY: Click through to see bonus pictures of the Bund and Chinese tourists and a picture of the largest (non-fake) LV bag Mervyn’s ever seen.

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2 Comments leave one →
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