Sanlitun North lived up to its rep as an infamous nightspot this past week, which is unfortunate given some of the fun places in the area – The Tree, Kokomo, Saddle, Aperitivo, Cheers and Le Petit Gourmand, among others. Here are the highlights / lowlights:
- Authorities took exception to a Karaoke machine at China Doll (3.3 building) as the club prepared to launch on Thursday. After a delay of more than an hour, the main bar and dance area opened, with the music kept low. Early observations: this club needs to triple both its air con capacity and the gin in its 60-kuai GTs. The latest news: a “grand reopening” is slated for next Thursday.
- Luga’s, the burrito spot previously known as The Saddle, was closed a night earlier by police, who took the furniture outside, locked the doors, and posted guards after telling patrons to leave without paying.
- On the same strip, two of the four Pure Girl establishments that were shut down during a very public police drug raid in April reopened this week under the ironic name Higher and Higher.
- Worst of all, numerous people in China Doll during the launch party told me of a severe beating in front of 3.3 that saw about 20 people swarm a man who ran out of the building and punch, kick, and swing sticks at him. Here’s a take on that incident.
Add to this the ongoing Swire construction mess (I recently saw two confrontations between locals and building guards and officials these past two weeks – in one case one, a woman threw aside some metal barricades and began punching the guards), tension between bars and clubs (the most obvious being China Doll and Club China Doll), and the continued standoff between workers and management at that building just off the main strip.
Does that mean punters should avoid this area? Not necessarily, since the vast majority of people party in the area without incident. But I would again stress that these are times to keep your wits and a copy of your passport about you.