Entertainment: Nightlife in Shanghai



Shanghai Nights

Nightlife in Shanghai

When the neon starts to jump out against the dusk skyline - Shanghai comes to life. Whatever type of bar you like, you will find it - and 50 others just like it - in the downtown districts of Jing An, XuHui and LuWan. It would take a lifetime to get around them all, but you sure would have fun trying.

People tend to go out much later in Shanghai and generally do not meet before 9 for dinner and as late as 10 or 11 for drinks.

Most bars stay open until 4 or 5am and, if you want to dance on until way past sunrise, there are a number of clubs that stay open until 8 or 9am.

Photo:enterAsia Art

Pudong's nightlife is improving rapidly with a number of new cutting-edge, stylish bars and restaurants opening in the Lujiazui area. However, as yet these can lack customers and atmosphere. Because of cheap taxis and public transport, most expats and locals look to downtown for a night out.

With people, old and young out for enjoyment, nightlife tends to be quite laid-back and intimate and the problem of fighting or street violence does not exist here. Women have no problem in going to bars alone or with girl friends. Plus, they can travel home in safety without any fear whatsoever!

Dance - Theatre - Music Venues


The vast majority of theatre in Shanghai is in Chinese, but the Shanghai Drama Arts Company has performed two English language productions and also shows some of its Chinese plays with English `subtitles’ (a screen with translations). If this proves popular, other companies may begin making their productions more `English-friendly’. English-language plays and performances also come to the Shanghai Centre Theatre.

Dance plays a crucial part in China's historic cultural landscape and, consequently, the country's top performers regularly visit Shanghai's theatres. Traditionally, dance has been centred around the styles and narratives of different ethnic groups within China but it is developing more contemporary themes. Shanghaianese love dance and tickets usually sell fast - so always book well ahead



There are a number of regular music events scheduled during the week.
Call to verify if they are still on.



If there is one festival in Shanghai not to be missed, it is the June film festival. Showing hundreds of great, international movies over the course of a week at multi-locations, it's a way to tune back in to cinema and get a refreshing world view. look out for details in the listings magazines




Live Music

While Shanghai cannot seem to attract many big name stars or bands, it does have a lively music scene. In particular there are several atmospheric jazz venues, with talented, multi-ethnic musicians coming together to share their passion for making music. For local and international acts, The Ark Live House in Xintiandi is perhaps the strongest downtown contender. Irish Folk music can often be heard at O'Malleys.


While the vast majority of movies in Shanghai are Chinese - either original Chinese films or foreign movies dubbed in Chinese - there is now a growing number of theatres that show movies in the original English. French, German, and Mexican groups also have regular screenings of films in their native languages.

Of course, it is worth mentioning the easy availability of pirate dvds. Appearing just a day or two after cinema release, these films are sold on every street corner for 8rmb each and there are a great many shops, specifically set up to sell English, French and German spoken films to expats. While this practice is illegal, nobody seems to take any notice and it makes for cheap entertainment.


Shanghai Nights

Whether you like minimalist and modern, cluttered and atmospheric, djs or live jazz, Chinese or western inspired, Shanghai knows how to give you a good night out.

And, in such an international city, bars have an electric intermingling of Chinese, Asian, European and American customers.

Every week sees the opening of a new world class venue and the competition is so fierce that there are great bargains to be had almost every night of the week.

These are epitomized by incredible 'drink as much as you like for 100rmb' and '160rmb for wine all night' style deals.

You are especially in luck if you are a woman, as ladies' nights can be found in many of the leading bars, offering free champagne - and we mean real champagne - or cocktails all night.

Generally speaking, beer is 40-50rmb a glass, wine is 40-70rmb and cocktails are 50-70rmb.

Photo: enterAsia Art





The following publications have comprehensive information on events and activities around town. They are available, free of charge, at most bars, restaurants and western supermarkets:

River Cruises


Tickets Online

Due to the huge amoung of credit card fraud, buying tickets online is a relatively new concept in Shanghai, but it is slowly beginning to make inroads in the local community. For now, however, there is no English-language site for the purchase of tickets, and most popular expat events still require you to go down to the venue to buy the tickets beforehand. Some organizations will offer free ticket delivery, however, so do check.