Life of Reilly: Beijing Beatle Jorge Arrowsmith on his top five all-time bars

troy reilly of beijing beatles
Deep thoughts by Mr Reilly…

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Troy Reiley, known to many as Jorge Arrowsmith (George Harrison) of The Beijing Beatles and to some as DJ Fat Troy Slim, recently got a ticket to ride to his homeland Australia. With his lengthy stint in Beijing finished, at least for now, I asked him to name his all-time favorite watering holes.

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“I very rarely drink during the week and consider it more of a means to build up my Dutch courage before climbing on stage in a wig and costume to entertain a crowd. Given my situation as somewhat of a non-discerning drinker I was a little surprised when asked to do my own “top five” list. Normally the venues in Beijing are very generous and allow us musicians to drink unlimited amounts of alcohol on nights during which we perform so I rarely go out of my way to scrutinize a drinking hole prior to a night on the town. Having said that, after any performance it normally takes a little time — no later than until 12 noon the very next day — to wind down from all the excitement so a few late-night venues are normally part of the descent! Here are a few of ‘em!

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The Den

troy reilly last eggs benny at the den“I have spent a fair amount of time at this bar at ridiculous hours of the morning. The place is full of characters and I especially love having a squirt with one of the best Irish singers in town (no names mentioned) as we get stuck into a bottle of Baileys or two under the shade of a wallaby skin. It is normally around this time that all the local legends start to roll up including the infamous “pink lady” and of course the owner of this blog!

“The Bloody Marys are my answer to a healthy start to a brand new day — the healthy content being the tomato juice and celery stick of course — and they help wash down a feed of eggs Benedict with an extra side order of bacon. Seriously though, the Den staff deserve a bloody medal for the rubbish they have to put up with most early mornings of the week. The daily happy hours between 5 PM and 10 PM are also the best in town considering you can get a pint of Guinness for only 30 rmb.

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St. Margaret’s

Maggies 3“After a night of beer-soaked rock ‘n’ roll, it is always important to have one’s sins forgiven. St. Margaret’s, as the bar in question is more affectionately known, is anything but a place of holy worship! Look, the main thing that draws me to this place into the early hours of the morning is of course the hot dogs!

“Adding to this, once upon a time Tsingtao beers were only 20 rmb, but not any more. Come on Maggie’s, go back to the old days! You guys make enough off the ladies’ mixed drink orders that dig deep into the wallets of punters looking to find a new friend to spend the night with them. How about letting the rest of us enjoy a reasonably priced beer or two as we fill out the numbers into the wee hours of the morning?

“Finally, I would like to add that the DJs always put on a good selection of music and having a live band six nights a week playing four sets of music until 3 or 4 in the morning is certainly a bonus. For me, this is the best place for people watching in Beijing. But leave your camera phones at the door or they will be confiscated!

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Temple

1974996_10152291938266318_1684220587_n“This is my favorite billabong in Beijing for sure. Special mention goes out to the sexiest bar manager in Beijing — “Pink”. Test your limits by slamming down 20 shots in less than 20 seconds against Temple’s burger chef who currently holds pole position.

Clement and the gang have also come up with some fun names for their prized shots (not that you will remember them waking up after a great night spent at this place) including the Super Mario, French Fuck and for a complete wipe-out sensation the Armageddon. Opened by four old pals who have proved themselves on the music scene, Temple is Gulou’s Holy Grail for people into live music.

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Fubar

1800345_10151882954300919_105897917_nWhen I feel like making a switch of character from Jorge Arrowsmith of the Beijing Beatles to Fat Troy Slim, one of the legends on the Beijing bar scene — cheeky little Kev, who some of you may remember from his days at Durty Nellie’s, when Sanlitun South bar street was the only place to be — is more than obliged to host one of my themed DJ nights. Fubar often put on some great happy hour deals and offer great novelty drinks, including The Buddha (pay a little extra and take this great souvenir home) and the infamous cock shots.

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Xinjiang Street Food

522265_10151102122366587_1292321188_n“There is nothing I love more than gathering on the side of the road at my local Xinjiang “chuanr” joint off Jinbao street, seated at kindergarten-style plastic tables and chairs with a bunch of mates on a warm balmy night in the middle of summer. For less than the price of two mixed cocktails anywhere else, bottle after bottle of icy cold long-neck Tsingtaos (4 rmb a bottle) are complimented by chuanr, great noodle dishes and Xinjiang-style snacks.

“Also great fun watching the local Chinese in action as they roll up their trouser cuffs and let their Beijing bellies hang loose. Sometimes all hell can break loose, too. It’s best to have your bikes handy for a quick escape when the local fun police turn up to throw everyone off the street in the early hours of the morning due to noise complaints from neighbors.”

Close the book on Maovember: Zhen Hua school now has a library

maovember library project (6)
The donation included more than 1000 books.

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Last year’s Maovember mission raised enough money to furnish a one-room library at a school for children of migrant workers. Last week, the books and shelves and tables and chairs were set up by The Library Project thus completing the mission.

The idea for Maovember was spur of the moment but many people caught the spirit of a mission that involved bagels and beers, sausages and pies, a corn toss tournament and mustache bash, the Beijing Beatles and one hundred-plus pin buyers, and much more to raise the funds. I posted the final report / highlights here and there are a bunch of Maovember posts here.

The end goal was to create something tangible and that has been achieved. The kids at Zhen Hua school in Changping now not only have over a thousand books but also a space in which to reach them.

Kudos to all who made this mission a success. You can see the key supporters and events here.

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Zhen Hua school for children of migrant workers.
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One of the school’s colorful entrances.
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Chopping the books for the library.
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The first students to test out the space.

maovember library project

La Cava loca: Six Chilean wines at rmb20 per glass

la cava de laoma chilean wine sanlitun soho beijing china

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South African restaurant and bar Pinotage in Sanlitun Soho just started a happy hour — Monday to Friday, 5 PM to 7 PM — with eight wine-by-the-glass options at rmb15.

Now neighbor / Chilean wine shop La Cava de Laoma is doing a rmb20 deal on Fridays and Saturdays. The lineup includes a pair of reds from O. Fournier and a rose and three reds from Calcu. Expect huge pours — 175 ml — if the ad below is any indication.

The shop is on the first floor, north side, of the multicolored building — address here — and open from 10 AM to 10 PM. Pair a visit to La Cava and Pinotage for a mini wine tour of the Southern Hemisphere.

la cava de laoma chilean wine sanlitun soho beijing china (2)

Pubs, pics and playlists: Q&A with Jonathan Kos-Read a.k.a. DJ Midlife Crisis

jonathan cao cao kos-read beijing china
“I told you ‘no requests’.”

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You might remember him from such Chinese TV classics as Alien Caveman Vampires and Dial Later, My Love is Busy! but Jonathan Kos-Read is more than just a pretty face fighting scary monsters while managing a voracious sex life. He’s also a writer, photographer and, rumor has it, underwear model. Plus he DJs at my local watering hole. That all necessitates a Q&A.

Before we talk beverages, you recently mentioned a project that brings together Chinese and international photographers. What’s that about?

It’s opening this Saturday (April 19). I noticed that expats and Chinese shoot China really differently. But I couldn’t articulate what the difference was. So we put this show together where we have China photos from 20 international and 20 Chinese photographers up in opposition in the gallery.

Condensed into one sentence the theme would be: “Foreigners see things Chinese don’t see, Chinese see things foreigners don’t understand.

The opening is this Saturday at 3 PM. In 798 at the Inter Art Gallery. Just inside the south gate. You don’t need a ticket and there’s free Slow Boat beer. (More info here.)

I’ve seen you DJ at Fubar a few times. How did you get started and is it true the DJ gets as much free booze as he or she can handle?

I just turned 40 so I am having a midlife crisis. I was depressed and getting drunk in Fubar with the owner Kevin. I said, “I want to try DJing, man.” He said go for it.

So I sort of stumbled up and gave it a shot. I always figured I would be good at it. And how hard can it really be, right? You just press play and stop. So I was really crap the first few times but Kevin was cool and now I sort of figured out how to do it.

But I told him I didn’t want him to pay me. So I do get as much free booze as I want. I even made myself a DJ shirt that says MIDLIFE CRISIS on it in Chinese.

What are your top three spots in Beijing to grab a drink after a long hard day on the set?

Slow Boat for the beer and the fryburger. Great Leap 1 for the courtyard. Fubar because it’s the perfect bar (and Kevin lets me DJ).

You’ve been in Beijing a long time. What’s one bar now closed that you wish was open so you could introduce it to newcomers?

I wish Nightman still existed. It was this awful dance club that opened in the late 90s, like an excited but embarrassing father of Mix and Babyface. But in 1997 Chinese people were experiencing that kind of thing for the first time. So nobody was jaded about it.

Remember that “Token White Guy” column you did for the former Beijing Talk, the one that covered your wild and crazy times as a foreign actor in China (see “Stupid TV Show Plots” and “I Want Her to Be Fat“). When are they going to come out as a book? And when that book gets turned into a movie, who is going to play you?

I actually optioned the columns but the project just bounced around Hollywood. The scripts they made were horrible. They wanted Jonah Hill to play me.

Iam fazinated from China and the Beijing Oprea is amazing so I developt this idea from kissing opera girls.
Does it really matter whether a Chinese or international photographer took this? On display in 798 from April 19. (Courtesy JKR)

This is Sanlitun: Playing at a theater near you…

this is sanlitun movie poster

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Mockumentary This is Sanlitun is part of the 2014 Beijing International Film Festival that just started and goes through April 23. Those who spend time in Sanlitun might well recognize some of the sights in the movie, from The Den to The Village to the scooter shop just down from Tavalin Bagels.

The story revolves around Gary (Carlos Ottery), a Brit who left his life in London to make his fortune in Beijing by selling a North Korean hair growth product and to reconnect with his former wife Lin (Ai Wan) and their child. That is, when he isn’t pounding beers, getting dubious advice from “old China hand” / impromptu roommate Frank (Christopher Loton), making ends meet by teaching English, subsequently finding himself in a tumultuous relationship with his student Momo (Hu Gaoxiang), etc. There are plenty of scenes that ring familiar, like the one with the self-professed “professional” English school owner (“What days can you work?” “Monday to Friday.” “You’re hired”), the one between two expatriates over who has the best Mandarin skills and the one where Gary finds himself hired for a day to play a chef — a.k.a. the token white guy — in front of investors (“it’s like being a male prostitute except you don’t have to do the sex”).

I saw the movie last week and while the plot is a bit choppy, the acting a bit rough at times, I found it enjoyable overall, with some laugh-out-loud scenes. You might want to pair it with an ankle flask of Red Star baijiu and a post-movie trip to a chuanr stand.

Note: I’m told there will be screenings on April 17 at 6:30 PM at Poly Cinema in Huamao Mall and on April 19 at 4:30 PM at Broadway Cinema at Pop Moma.

A Somewhat Steady China Hand on the Local Bar Scene