Guide to Shanghai Nightlife

Guide to Shanghai Nightlife, Shanghai, China (D)

Let GPSMyCity take you out for a night on the town, down Shanghai’s winding streets, where there’s a nightlife spot for every socializer. Head back in time to the opulence of the 1920’s, take in an ultramodern view at the world’s tallest bar or go underground for a taste of local live music. When you finally decide where to go keep an eye out for promotions listed for each venue, like the ubiquitous Ladies’ Night.
How it works: The full article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the sights featured in this article. The app's navigation functions guide you from one sight to the next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Guide to Shanghai Nightlife
Guide Location: China » Shanghai
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (D))
# of Attractions: 15
Author: Danielle Sumita
Author Bio: All the Asian adventure you can stomach. And then some. I do things, know stuff, meet humans. ...write like The Bard himself. Seek. If it all amounts to nothing more than a head full of sensory memories and a faint yet indelible trail of Me across the Universe, that's okay.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Shelter
  • The Mansion
  • Dada
  • Phebe 3D
  • Choir Wine Bar
  • M1NT
  • JZ Club
  • Windows Too
  • MAO Shanghai Livehouse
  • Arkham
  • The Chalet
  • Kaiba Tap House
  • 100 Century Avenue
  • YuYingTang
  • Le Cafe des Stagiaires

1) Shelter

An actual World War II-era bomb shelter repurposed for Shanghai’s grittier DJ flock. Step down, down… duck your head in the long tunnel with uneven concrete walls and prepare for the wave of hip-hop, house or dub step to hit you. Past the bar and dance floor, deep underground, is a set of three tunnel-shaped seating areas. The curved, mirror-tiled walls keep your group close for post-apocalyptic drinks. Remember to bring some shades if you plan on emerging, zombified, into the early morning sun post party.
The Mansion

2) The Mansion

Concerned for your Shanghai street cred since you only have a night or two in the city? Steer clear of downtown tourist traps and head over to The Mansion, a converted villa hosting daily ‘cool kid’ parties with a hostel vibe. The main dance room is adorned with graffiti, a disco ball and purple plush couches. The backyard boasts a stage, a pool and a tree house—putting the ‘Mansion’ into ‘The Mansion’. Never want to leave? Inside are 25 bunk beds for guests to sleep on after a night of partying, and anyone is able to stay at The Mansion free of charge as long as they contribute to the community. The ‘tourist’ stories you’ll have to tell!

3) Dada

A storied dive bar with a sister spot in Beijing, Dada is a veteran party promoter’s pièce de résistance. House and electro rule the dance floor, and big nights bring in big name djs courtesy of Shanghai-based party crew Antidote. For a low-key evening hit up one of their Tuesday movie nights, when you can lounge about on ample seating and take advantage of hookah specials. Expect a mix of young Chinese and expat patrons, cheap drinks, and an unpretentious environment.
Phebe 3D

4) Phebe 3D

Simon says: it’s time for that Chinese clubbing experience! Famous for shameless décor, dance clubs in China are gaudy, thumping shows of mostly everything but dance skill. It’s something every visitor should experience, and there’s no better place than Phebe club to get your fill. Outfitted with faux baroque furniture, giant screens playing racy music and laser light punctuations give the club a naughty nouveaux feeling. Gyrate with future friends elbow-to-elbow on the small dance floor or on top of whatever the security staff will let you get away with. Like to watch? There’s a cadre of models hired to play mini golf and pretend to play the piano for your entertainment… and that’s before you even enter the club. Inside, join Chinese club goers over a big plate fruit art to watch knock-off JLo's give live performances at odd intervals. Check out ladies night or an open bar night to save your cash, otherwise it will be an expensive, blurry night.
Choir Wine Bar

5) Choir Wine Bar

Housed in the oldest standing building on the Bund, Choir Bar will take you back, waaaay back, back into time. Built in 1860 under the Qing Dynasty, it was formerly the headquarters of 19th century opium trader Russell & Co. Playing off the hedonistic history the space, Choir does well to recreate the opulence of Old Shanghai. Cozy, curved alcoves keep secrets amongst friends, or just to share any of the tapas off of Choir’s menu. But if you’re looking for something edgier than a quiet night over one of Choir’s 300 bottles of wine, visit their website to catch one of their raucous 1930's era parties. Evoke your inner gangster in this surreal hideout and try not to forget you’re in 20something China.

6) M1NT

Not impressed? Looking to impress someone else? It’s probably a good idea to visit the club voted best in the business four years in a row. A Bund haunt for the Shanghai posh, M1NT mesmerizes with glittering skyline views from a skyscraper terrace as well as swimming hammerhead sharks in a huge tank lining the wall. On the calendar: all-white affairs, masquerades, big name rap artists and world-renowned djs, Muay Thai matches and talk-of-the-town launch parties—just to name a few. Make a night of it; sandwich your dance party between noshing at M1NT’s high-end restaurant and winding down in the lounge. At an exclusive club like M1NT it’s best to phone ahead and reserve a table. And just remember: luxury costs.
JZ Club

7) JZ Club

Step inside Shanghai's premiere jazz club. Dark and smoky, red-lit and red-lip appropriate, this venue is for the grown folk. Shanghai takes its jazz scene seriously, so expect top quality performances nightly, including a Saturday night jam session. Get there early to secure a good seat—especially on weekends. But hey jack, you say, what if I want the feel of ‘Old Shanghai’ sans the jazzy soundtrack? No sweat: a secret rooftop patio accommodates those must-have conversations while only allowing a soft, jazzy accompaniment.
Image Courtesy of Jill Shih.
Windows Too

8) Windows Too

A good place to make a bad decision. With two sequel spots sprung from the success of Windows Too, there’s got to be a reason for people to keep coming to this hole-in-the-wall pub. Is it the cheap drinks? The steady stream of grind-worthy top 40’s hits? The clientele, a mix of young locals and expats who may or may not be of legal drinking age in their home country? Maybe its events like win-a-bottle pool tournaments or Holiday Excuses to Dress in Costume? Answer: who cares? You’re overthinking things. Just show up with an open mind and an open schedule for the following day— you WILL be hungover if you party the Windows way.
MAO Shanghai Livehouse

9) MAO Shanghai Livehouse

A live music spot with sister venue in Beijing, MAO Shanghai Livehouse is a Shanghai's most active large-sized concert venue. The venue hosts international and local acts regularly. The layout says: ‘stay’, with an accessible stage, drinks at the back bar and an adjacent lounge for a rest between sets. The music says: ‘GET down’, ranging from pop to rock, to large-scale electronic events and all-out raves. The fans say: ‘encore’, as the loyalty to Mao is as fierce as the name-giver intended. Chinese language website only, to keep out the poseurs, so just peek at the pictures on the calendar and show up with cover charge in hand. True rockstars may inquire within.

10) Arkham

If you don’t know, well now you know: this joint is a must for all hip hop heads. Arkham boasts the best underground dance music for all lovers of hip hop and house music. A huge dance floor with a side-lined bar and minimal seating, you better be there to show your love to the DJ. With grungy, artless décor, this spot is a bare bones coven for Shanghai’s young and edgy. Drinks are reasonable; cover charge for big nights won’t set you back too far. Big names include DJ Wordy, Soulspeak and Yang Bing; nights named Hot Pot and Haze Out are ones for the history books. Bow down, you’re in the presence of greatness.
The Chalet

11) The Chalet

Simplicity at it’s finest. The Chalet is a neighborhood haunt with cheap drinks and diverse regulars. The building design inside and out is reminiscent of a Swiss lodge, cozy perfection in the trendy Former French Concession neighborhood. It’s popular with a seasoned expat clientele seeking a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Make use of the Tuesday happy hour deals for an after work drink or a low-pressure date.
Kaiba Tap House

12) Kaiba Tap House

Finally, a bar for beer lovers, specializing in Belgian brews. If you like to get hoppy then head over to Kaiba’s Tianzifang branch called The Tap House. Nestled up on the second floor inside Taikang Terraces, the outside deck seating gives a great view of the winding traditional Shanghai alleyways below. Rustic, wooden ceilings and a relaxed atmosphere don’t rush you through the massive menu of European lagers and ales. Belgium dominates the landscape, abbey, blonds and trippels championing their birthplace, with over 50 varieties in stock. Beer o’clock is now.
100 Century Avenue

13) 100 Century Avenue

Not a destination for traditional Chinese culture. On the contrary, the Park Hyatt Shanghai nightlife space is the apex of ultra-modern Shanghai, reigning high above in the infamous ‘bottle opener’ skyscraper. The glamorous lounge and restaurant spans floors 91 through 93 of the Park Hyatt Shanghai, making it the world’s highest bar and dining room. Chic eats from Western, Chinese and Japanese cuisines, borne of multiple kitchens, keep patrons decadently sustained. The drink list reads like a fairytale, imaginative cocktails and an impressive wine selection making up the main storyline. There’s a 120RMB minimum to spend, but that’s less than the 150RMB entrance fee to the viewing platform of the Pearl Tower. Plus, you’ll come out of the deal with a drink or some aperitif. Make a night of it and move from the restaurant to the lounge to the nightclub as the evening evolves.

14) YuYingTang

Yuyintang (or YYT as it’s more easily referred to) is one of the oldest underground live music houses in Shanghai. A staple of the city’s music scene, it brings in underground rock acts both worldwide and local. Unlike its counterpart MAO Livehouse it has an English language website with an interactive calendar, boasting weekly nights dedicated to folk music, jazz bands and open mic acts. Indie kids rejoice, beer’s cheap and esoteric band names abundant.
Le Cafe des Stagiaires

15) Le Cafe des Stagiaires

A trip to Shanghai wouldn't be complete without a strut down the infamous Yongkang Road. Like to drink outside? This is the place to do it. Want to ride your fixed gear and talk about geopolitics with a hairdresser, a diplomat and an ex-marine? Head over and bring your open mind. Turn into a pumpkin at midnight? Great. This street shuts down before the witching hour in deference to the surrounding residents. Daytime drinking your thing? Hit up a happy hour during the warmer months whether to caffeinate or to inebriate. First, save yourself the embarrassment and learn to pronounce it properly here: Leh Caf-eh deh Stah-gee-air.

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