Full Disclosure: The proprietor of this store writes our Music Monday column.
This is a story about the Chinese Dream. About a young immigrant who crossed the Pacific to escape the dangerous slums of America and come to Shanghai to realize his dream of opening a bodega, so that one day his family could have a better life.
This is that bodega.
Enter Uptown Records 'n Beer
, a tiny shop on the quiet end of Yongfu Lu that sells records, imported beer, cigs, and a few bottles of hard liquor, with space for about eight people. Here's what it looks like:
A little back story. Much like the many first-generation Chinese immigrants in America who worked in Chinatown restaurants before doing their own thing, Sacco put in years of hard work in Shanghai's gay bar circuit, with the dream of one day opening his own record store. He finally did in 2011 with Uptown Records
, a basement shop on Pingwu Lu selling new and used vinyl, vintage clothes, and often operating as an events space for parties like Ladyfest
and Record Store Day.
Then the rent went up, and Sacco thought they'd have to move out. So they got this little space on Yongfu. Turns out the rent didn't rise that
much, so maybe this bodega wasn't totally necessary. Thems the breaks in the new world.
So this little Uptown stocks bottles of imported beer, cigarettes, a selection of maybe 150 vinyl records, some bottles of hard liquor, and some random kitsch like an Etch-a-Sketch. Now, as far as bodegas go, I'm a little disappointed at the lack of deli sandwiches and Phillies blunts, but they do have some Stooges vinyl.
The beer selection is alright. Might have blown some minds in 2010. You've got standards like Dead Guy Ale (25rmb), Brooklyn Pale Ale (24rmb), Hoegarden (18rmb), and Young's Double Chocolate Stout (22rmb). Some are more expensive than other shops, and some are surprisingly cheap, like a tall bottle of Chimay Blue for 48rmb. You can drink in the shop or take a road beer to the upper Yongfu slums. Peep the selection.
Sacco just learned about The Beer Lady's far superior selection via an article on our website. And to that, he says:
"I thought we had a decent selection going upon opening last Saturday. Then I took a trip to the Beer Lady on Fahuazhen Lu. That bitch built a better wheel. We have a lot of catching up to do, but I bet she doesn't have any Neutral Milk Hotel or MadLib records."
A single Technics turntable sits on the brass countertop, hooked up to some vintage speakers from the QiuJiang Lu electronics market. If you ask nicely, they'll play any record in the shop for you, so long as it isn't new and unopened. You could probably bring your own record in as well. The selection here isn't as big as that of Uptown, but it's well-curated and eclectic, with jazz, disco, hip hop, and rock selections.
So yeah, Uptown Records 'n Beer. That's basically it. Simple concept that could definitely work, especially as a cheap pre-game option for people partying at any of the nearby bars, like Shelter
, The Apartment
, or JZ Club
. Just don't expect this spot to get rowdy. Even though they dropped about 13k on sound insulation, the neighbors still live directly above them. Let's see how that works out.
It's open now, from 2pm-midnight. Worth a look if you're in the hood.
Uptown Records n' Beer is at 131 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Lu. Check out the full listing for more information.