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Love on a Budget

There's this unemployed DJ circulating around town. Maybe you know him. Maybe he's slept on your couch or rolled you for some money. Maybe not. He's an aesthete. Not having money hasn't stopped him...
Last updated: 2015-11-09

There's this unemployed DJ circulating around town. Maybe you know him. Maybe he's slept on your couch or rolled you for some money. Maybe not.

He's an aesthete. Not having money hasn't stopped him from compiling a list of the finer places to eat in town. It's just, eh, informed his choices in a downward manner. Have a look at those here.

And it certainly hasn't diminished his appeal with the ladies. He sent us an unsolicited date playbook for the broke scumbag, a thrifty tour of the Shanghai hi-life sure to make any "lady" swoon.

We thought -- for a minute -- about paying him. Clearly, he needs the money. Executing his dating scheme requires real strength, discipline, and unapologetic focus. ("Oh, did you say Gin and Tonic? I thought you said warm Tsingtao. Here you go.") In the end, we decided that money would only corrupt DJ Swoopy Tool's ideological purity.

Bastards with money are a dime a dozen in Shanghai. A bastard without money -- that's still punk rock.

A few notes:

1. This date has been constructed, piece by piece, from actual encounters of DJ Swoopy Tool.

2. It requires a degree of comfort with public transportation, asserting control, and ignoring disappointment.

3. He is currently single and living in a university dorm room out in Baoshan where he's definitely not a student.

So, here you go:

DJ Swoopy Tool's Under 30rmb Romance Spectacular

"Met a special lady on SmartShanghai Dating but your wallet is a little light on the kuai? No worries. I've got your back with a 30rmb evening of pure delights."

The Meeting Place: Zhongshan Park

"Kick things off at Zhongshan Park around 5.30 or 6pm, when there's still enough sunlight to enjoy the scenery of kite masters, kids playing on carnival rides, and lovers in rental boats. If your lucky lady brings up renting a boat (40rmb an hour? No way.), mention that it's a great plan -- for next time -- but it's getting a little late and shouldn't you be making a move towards dinner?"

Total cost: 0rmb

Dinner: Saizeriya

"Take the Metro to Nanjing Xi Lu. Your date will most likely have her own stored-value transportation card, so you can get away with just one 3rmb ticket. From the station, walk about five minutes east to the 555 building. That's the office building whose basement houses this branch of budget-Italo joint Saizeriya. The crowd here is sparse, making it an ideal location. Ask for a corner booth and get cozy. Mention you had a large lunch and suggest just sharing a pasta. Wouldn't hurt to bring up that Lady in the Tramp spaghetti scene for extra sappiness. No drinks."

Cost: 13rmb (Spaghetti: 10rmb; Metro ticket: 3rmb)

After Dinner Drinks: Barbarossa (bench in front)

"After finishing up a quality meal with a special lady, it's often customary to seek out a romantic cafe for an after-dinner drink. Well, you're in luck, my friend, because uber-romantic Barbarossa is just a block or two down the road. But you don't need to be inside to enjoy the pond-side setting.

"Excuse yourself, pop into the Lawson's across the street and buy one large Suntory and two small Tsingtaos (brown bottles). Ask your date if she'd like to stroll People's Park at night. Find a nice bench within earshot of Barbarossa's lovely lounge music, bust out that Suntory and let the romantic convo fly."

Cost: 14rmb (Large Suntory: 3rmb; Two small Tsingtao: 11rmb)

Dancing: Bar Rouge

"Romantic settings and enthralling conversation can only take you so far. It's time to kick this date into high gear and take it on to the dance floor. Mention how lovely the view is from Bar Rouge and set off to enjoy Shanghai's premier attraction, The Bund, in style. Now, you've already done a fair amount of strolling already this evening, so go ahead and spring for the 1rmb train trolley to the end of the Nanjing Dong Lu Pedestrian Street. Walk from there to Bund 18 and stroll in like you own the place (as long as it's a no-cover weekday). Head out on to the terrace. While your date is marveling at the beautiful Pudong skyline, excuse yourself to the bathroom. Remember those two small Tsingtaos you bought? Pull them out of your man bag and give the bottles a swish in the toilet to cool them off. Uncork the bottles and serve them up to your special lady as if you just laid down 100rmb for overpriced beer.

"Make sure to hit the dancefloor right away. If she brings up wanting another drink, just start pulling some top shelf moves on the floor and she'll be sure to forget all about drinking."

Cost: 2rmb (Trolley tickets: 2rmb)

"After a night like that, you're almost guaranteed a ride home. You'll need to take a cab at this point, but no worries. When you both arrive at your house, mention you only have a 100rmb bill and you don't want to anger the driver. Couldn't she pay with her transportation card?

"The rest, my friend, is up to you."

Total cost: 29rmb