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I think I have found my bar … finally

If I had owned my own label, I would have signed the dude to a record deal on the spot. A Chinese guy who can handle indie rock and reggae? Not to mention the fact that he had more stage presence than there was stage. Not to mention the fact that he went toe-to-toe with the police in between sets. Not to mention the fact that he always appeared to be stoned or drunk — or both — until he opened his mouth to sing. This guy had rock star written all over him. And he was performing for a crowd of a few dozen in an unassuming watering hole tucked away on a lonesome residential Shanghai street, far away from where the city’s pretty people play on Saturday nights.

It was exactly where I wanted to be.

The bar is called Tang Hui Pub and it is located at 13 Xingfu Lu, near Fahuazhen Lu. On my city map, it’s about five inches northwest of Xujiahui. It was a 16 kuai cab ride from my apartment on Madang Lu. I first learned of Tang Hui from a Swedish journalist named Ola Wong who plays electric bass for the country band Shanghai Cowboys and used to play in a punk band back in Sweden. Then, after I posted my Top 25 Albums of 2004 a reader commented that I should DJ at Tang Hui. And then at brunch on Saturday with Cecil and Bliss at Zentral, Bliss stumbled upon an article about Tang Hui in one of Shanghai’s 107 English-language magazines. We decided to finally check the place out. (Cecil couldn’t go, having purchased an RMB 700 (!) ticket to attend the black-tie St. Patrick’s Day Ball at the Pudong Shangri-La. Tickets included dinner and “free” flow of Jameson and Guinness — but they also reportedly included river dancing and Bee Gees covers by one of Shanghai’s 107 Filipino bands.)

Entry to Tang Hui, on the other hand, was free. And I was happy to be seated on my barstool sipping my 30-kuai giant mug of whatever Budweiser clone was on tap — I usually try to trick myself into believing I’m drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon — my eyes focused on the tiny stage in the corner of the room, the wall behind which was adorned with four faces (listed from smallest to largest): Jim Morrison, Elvis, Bob Marley and Che Guevera. I was even happy to breathe in Tang Hui’s secondhand smoke. I like the place that much.

Now, I can’t label Tang Hui a Best of Shanghai just yet. This was just my first visit, after all. But this pub has potential. And I haven’t said that about many Shanghai nightsposts since I moved here in 2002. According to the magazine story, Wednesday at Tang Hui is Jazz Night, Friday is 70s’ Rock and Reggae and Saturday is set aside for showcasing new bands from Shanghai and Beijing. In the coming weeks, I’ll be back to check out it all. Hopefully, the music stacks up to what I heard on my maiden voyage.

Tang Hui study guide:

03.14.2005, 1:10 AM · Audio, Bars, Music, Observations, Video


  1. ew, Pabst Blue Ribbon?

    Just because you’re indie doesn’t mean you have to buy into bad beer, Dan! :P

  2. Yeah, Tang Hui is cool. It is in my neighborhood. Lots of Jiao Tong students some nights. Zheng Du (the guy singing) is the owner. He does a pretty good James Brown. Did you catch that?

  3. Yeah, Damn right Pabst Blue Ribbon! When I was back in China mid 90’s I wa so happy to see they had 蓝带啤酒。Champion of College Beerdrinkers everywhere. No need to be pretentious.

    Which reminds me of one of my favorite movie dialog quotes:

    Frank: “What kind of beer do you drink, neighbor?”
    Jeffery: “Heinekin.”
    Frank: “Heinekin?!? F**k that shit! Pabst, Blue Ribbon!”

  4. I was just watching the history channel and they were talking about “The Dropa Stones”. I searched your sight to see if you ran across these “extra-terrestrial” aritfacts. It doesn’t look like you went far enough west to see them. Apparently these is a race of dwarves in the mountains on the border between China and Tibet that are the descendent of extra-terrestrials. Run across any??

  5. I remember when I first came to Shanghai in 98. At the supermarket at the Portman, the PBR was 12RMB for a can, while the Heineken was 5RMB.

    BTW, Zheng Du of Tang Hui is sponsoring a Reggae Party at the Creek Art Center on March 25. You can get details at 1333 191 2313

  6. Was at Tang Hui again last night. Confirmed as my favorite bar in the city. Easily. Great atmosphere. Interesting cross-section of people, mostly Chinese. The inbetween sets DJ music could use some work, though. Lots of 50s stuff. Also, I wrote above that Fridays were 70s rock and reggae nights. That doesn’t appear to be true. Fridays and Saturdays appear to pull from very similar set lists. And that’s fine. Nothing wrong with a little “Sex Machine.”

    The owner was passing out cards for the March 25 reggae party Pat mentioned. Looks like they are calling it “Reggae Town.” And it features such big names as Pump (with Wanglei), DJ Judah and DJ Yas. It’s 120 RMB, which includes two drinks. Drinks afterward are RMB 25. It runs from 9:30 pm to 1:30 a.m. at The Creek Art Center. After-party is at Tang Hui.

    For more info, call 13331912313 or 54035500.

    The Creek Art Center
    101 Chang An Road, Behind 423 Guang Fu Road

  7. E,

    I have run across many short creatures here in China. Never thought any of them were from outer space. But now that you mention it …

  8. The party at Creek was fantastic. Wang Lei was excellent as expected, the atmosphere was great, and the upstairs chill couldn’t have been more relaxed…shame they insisted on throwing in some horrible reggae-pop nonsense.
    Dan, cool site man. Great pics and interesting articles!

    Full Moon parties at DKD coming soon! /plug/