What It Is: A bunch of Beijing nightlife types, coming down here, trying to tell us how to party. What do they know!
A fair bit, it might turn out. LONG comes to us courtesy of the PH Beijing crew in Sanlitun, teaming up with acclaimed Beijing artist Huang Yulong, and some dude named DJ Cavia? Never heard of him. He must be new.
The name is LONG but the triple character 虫 / chong means "worm"; something about how everyone wants to be a dragon, but it's important to sometimes live like a worm. Learn some humility, get some perspective. An underdog ethos of sorts.
It has taken over the concrete box that used to Bombay Bistro and actually done something cool with it. Describing any decor as "street" should be enough to make your eyes roll so far back into your head they high-five your tonsils, but LONG thankfully doesn't try to dress up like a Bronx housing project. It's wearing the lilongs across the streets.
From the ratking of power cables overhead to the electricity meters on the wall to the make-shift cinderblock tables at the back to the dominant tinplate, cement and steel accents. There's a giant LED plate across the ceiling designed to make you feel like you're staring up at a twilit Shanghai sky from a narrow alley, framed by a jigsaw of brick rowhouses.
Bottles obviously available, but the wall of kegs by the entrance is full of their batched signature draft cocktails, going for between 30-50rmb. Some aggressive cocktail nerdery for a nightclub. These aren't just rum-and-coke, they have a fair bit of rice wine and baijiu present on the ingredients list, and they even house-make bitters with cordyceps. Is that a Beijing thing? Our northern comrades are bonkers.
If you're not on that sort of thing when you're clubbing, there're 20rmb tequila shots and 30rmb Boxing Cat on one the dozens of taps, all topped by Huang Yulong's iconic hoodie ghost.
There's a full-size version leaning against the railing outside, next to their "pre-drink stand," a counter that sells 20rmb batched cocktails directly to the corridor at the east entrance of Found. A guided booze missile targeted directly at anyone smoking outside 44kw.
DJ Cavia's evidently leading the music program. That's a lot of responsibility! We're told it'll be mostly old and new hip-hop, as you'd expect from something with Cavia and Huang Yulong attached, but also a bit of pop and a little house.
First Impressions: I think this might be my favorite place in Found after Homeslice. Clubs usually leave me ambivalent or bored. Thousand rmb bottle packages, same rotating cast of Top 100 DJs, whatever. The lilong gimmick could easily have been pretentious, but LONG feels... I don't know, egalitarian? There's like one VIP table, the rest are casual benches and those cinderblocks big enough for maybe three people. The MO here is not dropping thousands on cognac you'll end up just leaving on the table.
Worms represent! Teeny tiny dirt dragons, drinking fresh 20rmb mojitos to a hip-hop beat.
What It Is: A larger club and bar, which replaced a smaller club and bar. It also replaced the sunken city's management's office. Mania has literally overtaken the management of Found 158! You finally really did it! You maniacs! You'll blow it up!
This Barbarian group appears to be booming. They started out with a bar in the Laowai Ghetto, and they've now got several Bites x Brews, a second Barbarian on North Bund, Hot Chick, Nomad (also in Found 158) and now this, a full nightclub. Add a massage spa, a veterinarian and an ebike shop and foreigners would never have to visit anyone else. Mania takes the space that used to be Deus and Blackstone Magic Bar, knocked down the wall between them and turned it into a dancefloor. The circular management office (always seemed empty except for a lonely fish tank) has turned into a circular bar, with indoor and outdoor seating radiating out.
The extensive menu of food comes from across the way at Nomad, an actual restaurant: beef tartare (58rmb), "ugly garlic bread" (38rmb) — ain't no such thing, all garlic bread is beautiful — grilled Lebanese flatbread with steak, caramelized onion and cheese (58rmb), lamb shawarma tacos (58rmb) and Moroccan chicken tagine (168rmb) big enough to feed 2-3 people. It is all dramatically better compared to the stuff you normally get in clubs. Doesn't say much. Okay, let's say that Mania's food menu definitely feels like it was made by people who predominantly deal with sober customers.
Bar manager is Ana Souza, one-time head at The Pontiac in Hong Kong and 2017 champion at Asia's Miss Speed Rack, where she beat 21 other female bartenders to make (good) drinks as fast as possible (useful skills for a club). The cocktails (around 70rmb each) are generally fruity and sweet. Summer friendly. Frozen Sangria and Whiskey Sours, Mangonada, etc, served in metallic cups, which the dancefloor should be thankful for. Dancing on broken glass, the best metaphor for this year I can think of. They come in shareable sizes, too!
This is mostly what's happening outside. Inside is a midsized red square with some seating around the edges, an LED plate looming over the DJ booth, TPI sound system and dance floor, and a tree. What? That's crazy! That's a whole tree! You crazy, Mania!
The LED plate cycles psychedelic 3D light shows over the head of the crowd. It's neat, in a very nightclub way. I pity the poor bastard who tilts their head back to make the room stop spinning for a second.
You might've noticed "Los Angeles" on the signs: evidently Barbarian partnered with musicians and artists from LA since last December for this project, which they're describing as an "art & music space." Light on the details of who exactly these artists and musicians might be, except for resident DJs being Alex Baylienz from LA, and WIADD from Shanghai.
First Impressions: Hey, it's all right! Food's good (again, actual restaurant), drinks are especially good on a hot, muggy night down in the Pit. I like that the bar and dancefloor are separate so you can have a good time at either without interfering with the other. Unlike all other clubs down here where you're trapped in a bunker room designed specifically to torture epileptics, Mania is comparatively breezy. Found 158 sort of blends into Mania and vice versa. With Nomad across the way, Barbarian now splits Found 158 in half going north-south. You're tearing this pit apart, Mania.
I'm not sure I get much "artist" vibe from it. Dark, red-lit rooms are perhaps not the best canvas, but apart from that 3D thing, it's another club down in Found. A nice one! But just a club. Not sure what it's trying to say, man. Not sure what it's trying to make me feel. Apart from dizzy.
Also Happening in Found 158
There's another new club down in Found 158 that we didn't make it to. It's called Verb or possibly "FF" (seems like both names are used interchangeably) from some of the people behind the troubled Craft/Generations on Donghu Lu. Mo' clubs, mo' clubbing!