Sign In


I Spit On Your Grave 2015

From hell's heart I demand a bar tab. A tour of doomed bars in Shanghai. I spit on ALL your graves. You and you and you and YOU.
By Nov 27, 2015 Nightlife


"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth, Ralph Waldo, truth.

DJ, spin that BrainyQuote search of "failure" back one more time. Bring the pain.

"Mistakes are the portals of discovery."
-James Joyce

Damn. That's some James Joyce. One more. Hit me just one more time. BrainyQuote quote search: "failure", let's go.

"The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success."
-Paramahansa Yogananda

Wise words, my friends. Wise words indeed on the cool inevitability of failure. Failure in all our lives, each and every one of us. Failure in our lives, failure in our loves, failure in our careers...

...failure in convincing just 20 or so of these damn people to show up to your bar like three nights a week and maybe spending 100rmb or so each, I mean is that really so much to ask! Ladies drink for free sometimes!

Shanghai, I stand before you a failed man!


I'm slinking back to you, a cold, black mirror of human tragedy, a day late, a dollar short, a step behind, out of time, out of line, pointing fingers, rewriting history, spreading lies, assigning blame, (rent overdue), and making accusations.

Shanghai, I'm easing myself back into your bad graces by resuscitating the "I SPIT ON YOUR GRAAAAAAAVE" article. Original one, right here, published on this very website oh so long ago.

Here we go again: It's the bar crawl for the damned for the year two-oh-one-five.

Last night, I visited 8 or 9 Shanghai bars and clubs of note that have since shuttered up to see what's going on with the location now. It's a walk down memory lane. It's a walk of shame. It’s like a combination walk down memory lane and walk of shame -- it’s a walk down memory shame; it’s a walk down memory shlame.

Raise a glass to all these closed venues -- they burned bright, they burned shitty, they utterly and complete failed and thus closed down.

(Or, yeah, maybe they just moved across the city and are doing really successfully now, or maybe the owners just sold the place and retired to a beach paradise somewhere, hey, whatever, screw you buddy, I'm doing the narrative here.)



Closed: April '15

Back in the Day:

You remember when your dad used to go on "business trips" when you were like 11 years old? Like every six months or so, back in 1987, he'd be off for a week or two on a "business trip" somewhere, and then he'd be coming back, bringing you some interesting cultural trinket from the airport?

K, check it: "Business trips" for your dad were hopping on an airplane to Shanghai and going straight from the airport to this place called "Malone's" to get a blue cheese burger and then BANG IT OUT with prostitutes, like a fireworks factory getting hit by a SCUD missile.

I mean, not MY dad, he's a great guy, I'm talking about YOUR dad. He loved Malone's. Absolutely loved it.

So yeah, Malone's: It's was an all-purpose bar and restaurant for your typical expat gentleman circa 2004, visiting China as they would on these quality control trips for the regional air conditioner outlet they worked for back in Tulsa. Malone's did sports on TV, they did pool, they did lechery, they did blue cheese burgers that everyone would discuss on these things on the Internet they used to have back then called "Forums".

What's There NOW:

Swallowed by the Judy's empire. Which makes sense actually. God save and keep the matriarch of Shanghai nightlife, long may she reign. So, yeah, they're turning it into a "The Spot". It's not open yet. Still rennovating. They're turning it into another "The Spot" about 20 meters down from the original "The Spot", which really hurts your brain if you stop to think about it.

Like how can this be "The Spot" when there's another "The Spot" just down the road. Which is "The Spot"? They're both "The Spot"? How can we met at "The Spot" when there are TWO FUCKIN' SPOTS, MAN, COME ON.

These are the sort of metaphysical quandaries you're confronted with in this line of work.



Closed: March '13

Back in the Day:

Inferno: the little heavy metal bar that could. How can I introduce Inferno? It was a bar opened by a Danish giant Satanist who wanted a place for him and his total reprobate friends to hang out at, play pool, and listen to heavy metal music. The end. As the only venue in Shanghai truly dedicated to the entire spectrum of heavier mp3s, it was a singular location in this city and a real beacon of bad ideas for Shanghai's other underground class of kids: Yuyintang band goons, Geocities-core cyber goths, that one asshole co-worker you've got, Chinese pool heshers, Scando nut bars you should never ever exchange WeChats with, and ... ugghh.. that guy... Oh Jesus, it's that guy. Oh no! ... Fuckin' HATE that guy.

You know that guy.

(Answer: It's all of us.)

So what happened to Inferno? Landlord shit, noise complaint shit, blah-blah-blah shit. Same ole shit. What happened is Inferno is bigger and badder than ever. They just moved across town. Right here to be specific. It's a live music venue that is open right now, hosting local and touring bands every week. You should go and give them all your money and other nice things. They're doing fine.

But what going on at the original location of Inferno now?

What's There NOW:

Gotta say, I'm feeling the renovations. Looks great! "Shabby chic," I believe is the term for it? Looks like they're going in a pretty strong direction with the decor, and they've opened up the floor space a bit.

Maybe for DJ dance parties?

But, oh man, the old Inferno these days, seriously, hell yes. Inferno is haunted and scary and metal as fuck, and it looks like GG Allin had a nervous breakdown in it. Not only the bar, but the whole damn building is condemned. It's all completely abandoned. It's a crack den. The whole building. Inferno really nailed the dismount on this thing right here. 10/10.

Man, I've seen Norwegians treat their churches better than this.




Closed: August '14

Oh boy, Shiva Lounge. Here we go.

So Shiva was this place where [REDACTED] and people would [REDACTED] like no one's business. Like every night, it would be [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. Totally insane. Total. Insanity. I'm talking about [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. You'd just go into the bathroom and...


Let's try this again.

In its time, Shiva took the Shanghai after-hours baton from this place called Dragon Club, carried it for a little while, and then passed it off to Amber Lounge. In their day, they hosted basically every house, techno, and trance DJ in the city on their decks and were a real tried-and-true staple for the clubbing hardcore. Realness: Shiva was the final, ultimate destination for pure unadulterated Eurotrash terrorizing the city on their nights out. It chewed them up and spit them out onto the street at 10am, into the loving arms and nimble fingers of the working girls of Yongfu Lu.

Shiva Lounge: They weren't for the faint of heart, but they WERE for the pure of soul, coming in large part from the lovely husband and wife owners, who I assume have moved on to finer and nobler endeavors wherever they are now in the world.

Hopefully, it's an endeavor that isn't characterized by trying to sell alcohol to people who show up to your bar at 7am -- people who have already moved far beyond alcohol into new and fantastic depths of partying.

What's There NOW:

Indeed. Exactly right.

Need we say more?


Glamour Bar

Closed: December '14

Back in the Day:

Always an event when a Bund bar closes. It like a wave hitting a rock. It's an unstoppable force colliding with an immovable object. It's... like a... like.. yeah, whatever, I don't got it. But a Bund bar closing... yeah, that's like an RMB bonfire that you can see from orbit.

Glamour Bar. Serving cocktails at the intersection of Old Shanghai and the great Bund clubbing explosion of the mid '00s. Glamour Bar: a bastion of arts and literature with their cultural events programming, a trend-setter for the city in their interpretation and presentation of Shanghai's art deco heritage, and the high-end cocktail bar where I once beat the China representative of BP Oil in a chugging contest. True story.

Glamour Bar was a microcosm of what Shanghai was as a whole in it's day. It was basically a nightly mash-up of the wealthy and the pretenders, people on the way up and people on the way out, business cards and book recommendations, some good salon conversations, some bad salon conversations, young and old, drunks and people who didn't get that drunk, people stylishly dressed up and people stylishly dressed down, all loosely united together in a room, all occupying themselves with the business of taking pleasure in living in Shanghai. Taking pleasure in living in Shanghai and taking pleasure in the people you meet over drinks in Shanghai -- guess that's pretty much it.

"Classy drinks in a tasteful environment." The most bandied about phrase in lifestyle journalism never rang truer.

It was like the most Ned Kellyest bar that ever Ned Kellyed.

What's There NOW:

The elevator door opens up on the 6th floor to the sight you see above. It's a slick, pristine, and empty marble room, with a bunch of electrical wires hanging down from the ceiling.

Exactly what the inside of my soul looks like, actually.


Cirque Le Soir

Closed: March '15

So, this place was after my time. I can't really speak on this place. Cirque Le Soir? What's that, exactly? Like Diet Coke Chinatown? What? We're doing that whole thing again? Forget Chinatown already, Jake.

Anyway, I guess it's closed. What was it, this place? Like some sort of circus? They had little people? Little people performers? Isn't that Mattia's Pervert Party thing? I bet wherever Mattia is right now he's laughing, laughing, laughing about the closure of this place. (Ibiza, wild guess.)

What's There NOW:

Everything's neatly folded up and stored away like a Broadway musical that's finished its run.

Side note, you know that city that's completely built for little people in China? Like the whole city is little people and all the houses are small? Do you think Mattia's been awarded, like, the official key to that city for all the work he's given the community at the Pervert Party?

I bet there's a full-on statue of him right smack dab in the middle of the town square.



Three Sisters


THREE SISTERS, oh man. This is a really deep cut. Three Sisters was huge in the day as the closest you could get to a strip club in Shanghai and still operate within China's obscenity laws. That was their deal. There was pole dancing, oh Lord there was pole dancing. Again, this is some circa 2007 shit when all bars were basically these single pool table-plus-Christmas lights deals. That was all you needed for a bar back then: a worked-in pool table, a shelf of hard liquor that tasted like diesel fuel and pencil erasers, and enough Christmas decorations to celebrate the birth of 9,000 Jesuses.

So, yeah. It was a "talking bar," which basically means they were also fully staffed with girls from Anhui province who could absolutely annihilate you at 8-Ball.

What's There NOW:

Oh SHIT, it's still open! What! That's like Creed still making records. Man, Three Sisters, still fighting the good fight. Still in the game. Good for them.

Check this out. They've pretty much covered the wall of the place with pictures of the "wig" parties of yesteryear. So many wig parties. So many memories in theory. Spent like 20 minutes pouring over these pictures, recognizing tons of faces. It's like someone made one of those time capsule things and your college roommate farted into it as a joke.

Open it up 10 years later and it hits you like oh, very funny, Dave. Good job, BRO. Yeah, you really got me BRO.

Look at these heroes.

One of these guys actually works for SmartShanghai now. THE SHAME. I SHAME YOU, SIR.

Raise a glass to the barroom heroes that are no longer with us...

Speaking of wig parties...


I Love Shanghai

Closed: October '08

Back in the Day: Holy shit, I'm wearing a wig, shit's crazy, let's have a party.

Yeah, that was pretty much the depth and extent of it back in the day. No Top 100 DJ nonsense here. No underground trap music parties. The original location of I Love Shanghai -- the original one on the Bund -- was all about cracking the glass case on a wig and it was ALL SYSTEMS GO. The 100rmb open-bar deal didn't hurt either.

On the eve of their second anniversary of the Bund location of I Love Shanghai, I did an article for SmartShanghai trying to describe the experience. It's so long ago that's it's no longer even in the SmSh database, but thankfully the China Daily had the forethought to plagiarize that one and you can read it right here if you care. From that article:

"A beautiful thing happens around 3am at a good night at ILS, when you stagger passed Australian English teachers doing Absinthe shots with American high school students and Chinese businessmen, and you catch yourself in the mirror at the sinks but don't recognize yourself because you've got on a flowing blond wig and marker all over your face. It would be a fitting moment for some kind of interstellar comet to slam into the earth and wipe us all out completely -- that's the mark of a great party."

Mark one up next to "Washington State" on the big Absinthe shots scoreboard for old time's sake.


What's There NOW:

I couldn't remember exactly where it was but it doesn't matter because it's all this now. That whole row is this. Now, it's a really dusty police station. For real.

So, I'm outside this police station at 2am with this floodlight aimed at the doorway, screaming to the photographer TAKE THE DAMN PICTURE TAKE THE DAMN PICTURE.

Not the smartest move in the world.

The spirit of ILS lives on, wherever people are doing incredibly stupid things that could get them in a huge amount of shit.


Shanghai Expo

Closed: October '10

Back in the Day:

Shanghai Expo was an Expo that happened in Shanghai.


What's there NOW:

It's basically the architectural equivalent of MySpace. It's devolution writ large. It's fucking Mordor, man, for real. It's pretty much all walled off, knocked down, and whoever makes these sorts of decisions has straight-up decided to let the earth reclaim it. Probably the right call.

Here's the best we could do for photos, taken over walls and through fences. I'll let you fill in your own J.G. Ballard reference here to ride this one out.


Love and thanks to Ian and Rhiannon for photography and being B&E BFFs.



Please register to reserve a user name.
  • 4 years ago Zammo

    Oh Brandon...

    The internet never forgets. The internet and the wig wall at Three Sisters, these things never forget.

  • 4 years ago dylansmrjones

    They've got a name for people like the bald one and I. That name is called recidivists

  • 4 years ago robjamdj

    Morgan you got any footage of the ILS Cop Crew chasing you along the Bund in that Postman Pat mobile?

  • 4 years ago jacobkane

    I love Shanghai Bar has re-opened in Tianzifang. Just sayin'...

  • 4 years ago lawrence

    Malones was more of a late 90's thing Morgan. Pretty much played out by the mid 2000's.

    90's era Shanghai could have been Malones, then New York New York, or possibly Casablanca, or D.D's, then ending up at Manhattans on Julu rd. I could claim to have memories of that, but the alcoholic haze has burnt that all away.

    Suprised you didn't cover the former depths of hell over by Rui Jing lu. Lots of bars down there that made 3 sisters look like a nunnery.

  • 4 years ago DEF-JON

    Rye no DKD?

  • 4 years ago Dragonfish

    I don't think the author is qualified to speak about DKD , at least not the one on Maoming. Lawrence for sure is, but probably can not remember weather it was next to Judy's, Kabb or Cest La Vie.

    @Brandon - classic one of yourself and Mr Bamford ! 3 Sisters 4 Life.

    Only bars that should be reopened immediately by Govt decree -- Face ( inside Rujin Bing guan) and Pretty Woman ( Julu lu)

  • Recent Articles
  • Popular