Memory Lane: Keep in Touch Bar

File this in the “just when you think you know a guy” drawer. Jon Tsao, who Ive known since arriving in Beijing two years ago, nonchalantly mentioned a while back that he once co-owned a bar called Keep in Touch. I asked last issue if any readers remembered the place (my bad for stating it opened in 1966, rather than 1996). Here are the replies:

“Everyone has the bar that defined their youth - Keep in Touch bar was mine. One of the first non-Haidian bars to serve cheap drinks, it had a great laidback atmosphere and one of the best looking female bartenders I can remember. That said, it wasn’t around in 1966 as per your email, more like 1996. It would have been a trip had it been there then, however. Pass over 3 mao and a screwdriver ration coupon, and the drink was yours. It was called Keep in Touch because the owner lost his good friend in a motorcycle accident, and the (slightly wrecked) bike was parked in the back of the bar.” MT 

“Keep in Touch: great live music, very laid back, good mix of local music fans and foreigners.” CT

“Wow, I remember Keep in Touch. I used to go there to see live bands back in the late 90s. The all-female rockers Cobra was a blast.” SO

It is a crucial part of Beijing band history, providing one of the first upscale’ choices for alternative music in Beijing certainly and perhaps in all of China! What a heyday it was then, with Get Lucky, Scream, Angel Bar and Kaixin Leyuan holding down the low end, while Keep in Touch and later Lan Yinhe, and still later River Bar (the higher scale descendant of 17), rounded up the mid to upscale choices. Now we’ve got only New Get Lucky, the various What Bars, Stone Boat occasionally, Yugong Yishan, D22 and 13 Club and the new third floor of Tango, and the scene feels more limited, although listing the bars out like this seems to defy that impression!” TS

“Keep in Touch was a legendary live rock bar. It was one of the few true originals and was widely respected as the place to go for live original rock from Beijing and other parts of China. It was down a dingy hutong directly north of the Kempinski and may or may not have been reincarnated in other spots at other points in time.” – MW

2 thoughts on “Memory Lane: Keep in Touch Bar”

  1. The past always seems so much better than the present for people who didn’t do much, then or now. Keep in Touch was fine, and the scene back then ok, but places like D22 and 2 Kolegas are a lot more interesting and the music scene is definitely better now. I suppose that once those two places close we’ll have to hear all the standard moaning about how great it was in 2007.

  2. i was one of the old regulars of KIT during its first year. when it was opening, it was reported in beijing scene, but if you actually tried to go there it wasn’t opened (that was the end of 1996). the first time i made the trip from wudaokou to there when it was actually opened was the beginning of 1997. the motorcycle was zhang ju’s, the bassist of tang dynasty. i have so many memories from KIT. i remember sitting & chatting on the bike with a close friend who used to perform there every weekend (i won’t say who). i remember wang yong’s (the other co-owner) wife taking breaks from work in the bar to go outside with me to eat yangrou chuan’r. so many conversations with wang yong and other friends there which sometimes ended with the next day’s sunrise. i think the girl mentioned by MT was wang yong’s younger sister. she was a sweet girl. she is no longer with us. i met jon tsao back at that time in the bar, but i only really got to know him in the years since online after i left beijing.

Comments are closed.