My final complete day in Beijing was one of some rather intense socialising. It all began with late afternoon drinks, which then morphed into dinner, and then a bit of bar-hopping.
The drinks were lots of fun with an arty-expat crew in a swish apartment overlooking the Grand Canal. The kind of apartment that would be worth several times more now than its purchase price off the plan a few years ago.
The drinks then morphed into dinner, and that’s where baijiu comes into it. I’ve never been one for “shots”. It’s all a bit too “competitive drinking” for my liking. And so when it was suggested that we purchase a bottle of the Chinese high-spirit alcohol, I was a little nervous. “What does the smell and flavour remind you of?’, a friend asked me. “Amyl nitrate”, I replied.
With a few drinks under our belts, we wandered to the nearly located Russian nightclub, Chocolate. The first thing you notice as you walk into the bar is the sheer size and faux opulence of the place. We have swish bars in Sydney, but nothing like this. And the second thing you notice is the dancing girls. Yes, dancing girls on the stage and around the tables. It was quite a site to behold to watch what you thought were reasonably sensible men pulling out their wallets and extracting some of their hard-earned cash to hand over to the girls.
After a couple of hours of dancing girls, the last remaining hint of heterosexuality was so completely exorcised from my existence that I can now absolutely confirm myself as a perfect “Kinsey 6”. It was well and truly time for some gay bar action. Our destination? “Destination”, is arguably Beijing’s best-known “exotic bar”, as they’re known euphemistically here. I’d read on the internet that it was reasonably quiet during the week, though Wednesdays were often quite popular. That certainly wasn’t the case on this particular Wednesday, with just a handful of people sitting around. Still, it looked like a nice bar, and if I return to China, I’d definitely schedule a weekend visit there.
As the last drinks were called at “Destination”, and our evening not quite complete, we went in search of something a little edgier. We ended up in a small bar which I subsequently went on to describe in a text to a friend as a “student slum bar”. The crowd was young, straight, and completely pumped for a night on the town. Hey, they even had a pole for pole dancing. I resisted the temptation, though the call was too much for a friend of mine and, within minutes, he was having the time of his life.
“You know we’re gay?”, my friend, who speaks Chinese, said to the girls hanging around us. “Yes”, they replied. Meanwhile, I got chatting with a guy whose girlfriend/wife’s face had an almost permanent scowl on it, seemingly directed towards us. Very strange.
So that was my final full day in Beijing. And what a way to top off an amazing holiday.