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[On The Radar]: Arkham (Found 158)

Shanghai's biggest alt dance venue Arkham returns on the scene in Found 158. They're looking to pick up right where they left off.
2017-05-12 14:35:42
On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places we find interesting. Sometimes we stumble upon these places, and sometimes we are invited, but in both cases, we are never paid to write an opinion, rather, these are our honest first impressions, and not a formal review.

On The Radar is a weekly SmartShanghai column where we profile new venues that you might like to know about. Here are the facts and our first impressions.


Quick Take: Arkham a big concrete cube designed for optimal levels of dancing and drinking. Fans of the old space will be pleased: The main area is very much the same lay-out — big dance floor space facing a stage, bar on the one side, stadium table seating at the back.

Two days is a row, here's another venue so integral to the cultural life of this city — so deeply important to the fabric of your waking lives — that it warrants its very own "On the Radar" article. So be it. Who are we to stand in the way of industry and progress. Here you go, kids.

This is what the new Arkham looks like.

So, yeah. It's a big concrete cube. The main area very much recalls the old space. It's the exact same layout. The majority of the main room is dance floor space, facing a raised DJ / band stage. The bar is along the wall, on said dance floor. There is stadium seating at the back facing the stage, with two or three rows of tables rising up to the back wall.

And that's pretty much it! As of this writing.

But they have plans...

The total area of the new Arkham is about 1/3 bigger than the old one (capacity 600-800), because they've got all these side rooms that are still under construction, scheduled to be opened at the end of June. SmSh did a tour last night through the catacombs of Arkham to see what they're up to. They're building two VIP rooms on both sides of the main area — one of them has its own bar and toilets — a VIP artist room, and another separate VIP bar with its own sound system and DJ booth for more private affairs. Private VIP affairs.

The idea is to satisfy both demographics of Arkham's clientele. On the one hand, they're doing really well with the younger Chinese and expat kids who are coming to dance and drink on the main floor to the phuture soundz of SHFT., Yeti, S.T.D., and 4x4x4x4 et al. On the other hand, given the venue's status as something of a "taste maker" for trendy music and fashion in Shanghai, Chinese celebrities and fashion world types also really want to be down with the kids. Hence, VIP rooms, table booking (5000 or 8000 depending on the table), and private areas.

You remember the old Arkham with the balcony area for VIPs and guest list? They're looking to recreate that as well by the end of June, and are planning on knocking down the upper portion of the wall on the right... create a cat walk type of thing on which people in the VIP room on that side can view all the action on the dance floor without mingling with the proles. As of now, just the main room is open, and that's what Shanghai will be celebrating tonight with the S.T.D. opening party and the SHFT Excision party tomorrow.

So, the new Arkham. Overall vibe is the same. It's the same crowd, music, music programming (the aforementioned local platforms mixed with visiting internationals), sound, sound quality, drinks (60rmb cocktails, 35rmb shots, 40rmb bottles, one 40rmb pint of Asahi). Same lights, same smoke machine, same... everything.

It just feels slightly more compact, with the lower ceiling. It's cozier. Feels less like a concert venue and more like a club.

What else to say. It's entirely non-smoking. So that's nice. Your body the next day will thank them for that. They're looking to be open for Thursday, Friday, Saturday (it's just Friday and Saturday for now). Hours are 10pm to 5am.

First Impressions: Arkham is picking up right where it left off, getting back to business in the Found 158 F&B hub. The beat goes on. First impressions. Hmmm.

Arkham is... Arkham.

Yep, that covers it!

Time is a flat circle. Bringing a bottle of vodka and bunch of red bull mixer to a table in the back.