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[On the Radar]: Dada Shanghai 2.0 Soft Opens on Yan’an Lu

Still nothing to do with the art movement and everything to do with the body movement, hey!
Jul 7, 2021 | 15:00 Wed
Photos: Brandon McGhee
On The Radar: On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places you might like to know about. Sometimes we stumble across these venues and sometimes... we are invited. As such, these are our first impressions and not a formal review.

What Is It:

I was going to start with, "If you're new to Shanghai…" but I don't think they make "new to Shanghai" anymore, so, alright, this thing just got a whole lot easier. 

What Is It? 

You know what it is.

It's Dada Shanghai!  Two-point-ohhhh.  It's (soft) open at their new location on Yan'an Lu. You can go if you like.

Roll pictures.   

It's been several hundred thousand years since Dada Bar opened on Xingfu Lu 12 years ago.  Along with two or three other notable Shanghai alternative dance clubs — cringey DJ magazines like to call these places "institutions" — Dada staked a reputation on pulling off a simple but elusive formula: play good and / or interesting music in an environment that it is not impossible to drink and dance in. 

In the past decade, they've expanded to Beijing — their location there also just re-opened in a new spot — and Kunming, riding a new wave of Chinese alt youth culture that wants to listen to good and / or interesting music in an environment that it is not impossible to drink and dance in.  The space in Beijing in particular has been an important and central platform for alt electronic music in that city, putting the shine on emerging local talent in the capital and in funneling Shanghai and international acts up to it. 

As is the case in Shanghai, if you stay open long enough you become illegal.  It's just what happens. They lost their original Xingfu Lu location and spent the past year or so looking for a new spot. This is what they've found.  It's basically a smaller and brand spanking new Dada bar.

Dada Shanghai soft opened last Saturday night with a very Dada Bar kind of event: Siesta and friendz played drum 'n' bass until the sun came up and then "DJ Ozone" took over afterward and played Talking Heads and the Jesus and Mary Chain to the remaining dance floor zombies.  What a throwback. 

This is a picture of the toilets, included here for posterity because they will never again look this handsome.  As of this writing, they've already been tagged once.   Give it up to "MGLX69!"  They win! 

Area: 

It's right on Yan'an Lu, on the north side of the street, a little bit west of its intersection with Anxi Lu. Traveling from the east, if you’ve hit the Mercedes Benz dealership you’ve gone too far.  It's walking distance to Yuyintang (Kaixuang Lu) and C’s.   

Oh, and Columbia Circle.  You know. That place you go to all the time.

(Basically, it's in the same neighborhood as before.)

Atmosphere:

Dada Bar-y.  But a very clean, very brand-new version of it.  Give them time to work in some grit and grime.  Flickering candles and concrete walls. Pervy red couches.  A nice, dive-y lounge kind of feel.  On the weekends, it's DJ parties that draw a dancing crowd, of course, from in-house and independent promoters.  Music is anywhere from techno to acid house to garage to indie rock to classical to country & western.  (They should! Why not!)   Expect a cover at the door.

During the week, they're trying to do a chill-out lounge sort of thing with nice drinks and cool music.  No specific events.  We dropped by on a week night and they were listening to Fela Kuti and My Bloody Valentine. Which is pretty great.  So, on a week night, you’re going down to hang out and have some drinks and shit.

The Drinks and Shit:

It's the standard Dada menu from before with a few new creative cocktail additions, clever shots, and an "exotic spirits menu".  This comes care of their new bar manager / drinks person who previously plied his craft at The Nest and Arcade

(Woof! Arcade! Ah, memories…)

The new cocktails aren’t completely finalized yet but you can expect something along these lines.

"The Hongbao"

"The Bailey’s Creamy One"

"The Witch"

"Tropical Trash"

Yeah, these were all good! Nice drinks! Very tasty.

Hey, I'm not bothered. If we’re listening to some buzzy shoegaze music on the stereo and your drinks aren’t over a hundred fucking kuai, I'm totally good, man.  I'm happy.  (These were all like 70rmb.)  

Damage: 

Standard mixed drinks 50rmb-60rmb. Cocktails 60rmb-70rmb.  Bottles, 40rmb-60rmb. Two beers on draft: Asahi - 48rmb; Moofee White - 58rmb. Wine by the glass, 70rmb.

Who's Going:

It's true, of course, that Shanghai is a trend-chasing kinda place, and stuff opens and closes all the time.  There is a flip-side to that, however.  Longevity is possible if you're doing something interesting and creative that resonates with people.  You can establish something even across generations.   I saw kids in there at the party last Saturday that would have been like 8 years old when Dada Bar first opened! Goddamn, y'all! 

So, yeah, the kids love this place.  The cool kids.  The fun kids.  Dada has this ardent and dedicated local following of younger club kids that love the place.  They're all going.  A fun younger crowd who likes to dance and drink.  To good and / or interesting music.   It resonates.   

Who else is going.  People who just don't know when to quit!

***

They're still putting the finishing touches on everything for Dada Shanghai.  More decor is going in, the events schedule is still being worked out, and the drinks menu finalized.  Expect a grand opening at the end of July 2021.  Open daily, 9pm to 2am. Closed on Mondays.  Have at it.

***

Dada is at 1303 Yan'an Xi Lu, near Anxi Lu. Full listing here.

TELL EVERYONE

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