SmartShanghai's Essential Guide to

Nightlife & Clubbing in Shanghai

The majority of bars and clubs in Shanghai, like many other Southeast Asian metropolises, are grouped on bar streets and nightlife districts, and sometimes a night out can entail bar hopping up and down a given street to several different venues in an evening. This is particularly true in China, wherein city officials and urban planners organize local resources by sectioning off areas of town to specific designated purposes. The last five years or so in Shanghai has seen the rise of the "lifestyle hub" -- several food and beverage, nightlife and cultural destinations sharing urban infrastructure and an overarching commercial branding. The success of Shanghai's preeminent lifestyle hub, Xintiandi, has spawned several clones in neighbourhoods all over town. Generally speaking, these newer hubs pale in notoriety and sheer sensory stimulus to the original, although as styles and tastes in Shanghai change, the newer destinations enjoy their time in the spotlight by virtue of simply being new.

The current clubbing scene in Shanghai is characterized by a handful of clubs -- both large and small -- that have staked their claim on a given night and demographic. Also in recent years, the clubbing scene has become more events-based, as competition-conscious club owners and promoters try to stay one step ahead of the pack, offering new theme-nights, international or local celebrity DJs, more elaborate one-off parties and better drink deals. These factors have contributed to a nightlife scene in which the avid club-goer must stay well-informed to suss out the best party on a given night. With few exceptions, a club could be rammed one night and completely deserted the next, and the question to ask is not "where" to go, but rather "when" to go.

Click here to be redirected to our events listings for the latest information on Shanghai's clubbing events. SmartShanghai makes weekly editorial recommendations for the best parties in town.

What's New in Shanghai

As of this writing -- the first quarter of 2011 -- two lifestyle hubs in particular are being well-received by locals, tourists and expats alike. Sinan Mansion and Surpass Court are two new hotspots in town, and both house several trendy restaurants, chic cocktail lounges and club destinations for afterwards. If you're looking for the new and the hip, stop reading now and start making dinner reservations at any of the venues group-linked in the pair above. Dinner, then cocktails, then dancing. Then you're on your own.

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  • Ladies, look out for "Ladies Nights"; you can drink for free basically every night of the week if you plan ahead.
  • Guys, look out for ladies nights; you know the score
  • Drink deals for all are available if you search them out. Check out the SmSh Happy Hour listings map and also watch for club openings in the events page -- free drinks taste better.
  • News spreads fast in Shanghai. Check out the SmSh Wire and subscribe to "Da Admiral's" weekly email roundup for the latest updates on nightlife happenings.
  • SmartShanghai's ticket delivery service, SmartTicket, sells and delivers tickets to the majority of Shanghai's best cultural and music events. Check out the SmartTicket landing page for the bigger shows on in the near future.

SmartShanghai's weekly newsletter "Shanghai_Nightlife" has all the latest info on clubbing and events in Shanghai, along with a nightlife column penned by noted Shanghai miscreant "Da Admiral," delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

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