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[The List]: Nightclubs in Shanghai

Jumping music, slick deejays, fog machines and laser rays... Lookout weekend.
Last updated: 2016-08-04
Shanghai parties hard. In big clubs with loud music, bright lights, and tables full of Champagne. Intimate spaces with small crowds dancing to disco and house. Reality holes that stay open until well after dawn. Dives where producers and DJs get their start and the drinks are dirt cheap. And KTVs and Family Marts. These are some of the main options for places with dance floors and DJs, as experienced by people who have been out in Shanghai. A lot. Perhaps too much.

Crowds depend heavily on the night and the promoters, so look through our listings to see what's on. Not a fan of clubs? We also have lists for places with live jazz, rock clubs / live houses, and LGBTQ bars.

Underground Clubs

The Shelter


Basically: For music heads, sometimes it's the best place on earth. International underground bookings or releases / showcases by local producers almost every Friday and Saturday, hip hop on Wednesdays.

Stalwart of the underground dance music scene for eight years and counting, this dark, sweaty, smokey, and thumping former bomb shelter is the place to catch locally-based independent electronic artists and DJs, and new cutting-edge dance acts from around the world. It's 100% about the music. Everyone from DJ Premier, Kode 9 and The Bug to Drexciya, Dam Funk, and Madlib have played under the low ceilings here. Music depends on the booking, but Wednesdays are always hip hop with Come Correct, Thursdays -- if it's open -- are usually techno, or sometimes a random booking. Friday and Saturday will always have a cover, which is usually between 50-100rmb. Drinks are cheap, with beers starting at 30rmb. Crowd is a pretty even mix of local and foreign music lovers of all ages. Consistently goes until 5am on weekends, and they stop charging cover at 3am.



Good For: Big underground / commercial-underground club vibes, cool youths, and frequent bookings of bass, trap, hip hop, house, and techno DJs. Look out for nights like S.T.D., SHFT, Say Yes, Yeti, and one-off promotions and brand events.

If Shelter is the old head, Arkham is the little brother with nicer sneakers. This is local promoter S.T.D.'s club, a large, underground warehouse space with three rooms and capacity for around 600–800. They put on shows every weekend, either with visiting DJs and live acts, local promoters or the STDJs. Music tends to be high-energy club music, trap, techno, and some bigger touring acts, with artists like DJ Snake, Cashmere Cat, Yellow Claw, and Aluna George all playing here. Occasionally bands, rappers, DJs have gigs here too. Good fun place to go nuts. Drinks are cheapish -- around 30-40rmb for beers or spirits. They usually open only on Friday and Saturday, but sometimes have one-off parties on weeknights. The crowd here, as of 2016, is predominately young, local, fashionable, and turnt up. The place usually clears out by 3am on a weekend.



They've got:  Cheap thrills, a proper dance floor, and eclectic DJs, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Some great long-running nights like Popasuda and Same As It Ever Was.

Recently remodeled and just about to turn seven years young, Dada is somewhere between a nightclub and a dive bar, and it's always packed on Friday and Saturday. Unlike their Beijing sibling, which shares bookings with Shelter, there is never a cover here. Due to that, music is usually house, disco, and techno from Shanghai-based underground DJs and sometimes artists from around China. Fun times, cheap thrills. Drinks start around 30-40rmb. Crowd tends to be young and local early in the night, then gets more foreign as the night grows later. They consistently go until 5am or later on weekends, but weeknights are often completely dead.



On any given night: Dirt-cheap drinks, zero pretension, someone throwing up, and possibly brilliant music.

While not a nightclub per se, C's has earned a place on this list because nearly every underground promoter in Shanghai -- from crews like Antidote, Sub-Culture, and China Social Club to DJs and producers like Mau Mau, Skinny Brown, and Swimful -- started out here. It's one of Shanghai's most well-known and enduring dive bars, and they've got the toilets, graffiti, and vomit to prove it. Even if you're not there for the music, it's one of the best places in town to get utterly blitzed. Crowd is young, young, young, and transient: high school students, younger out-of-town Chinese, English teachers, the unemployed, and the unemployable. Depending on the night, music might be classic Chicago house, grime, or insanely bad Top 40 mash up. There is never any cover. Check our listings to see what's on.

The Mansion


Known for: Raging house and techno until 8am on Fridays and Saturdays. Good ol' sketchy basement vibes like the rave days, with transient youths and models.

Kwazy kids castle, The Mansion opened in 2012 as a venue/hub for musicians, artists and other young "creatives." But most people know it for their weekend nights, when the basement and ground floor transform into a nightclub hosting local DJs playing everything from techno and deep house to hip hop until 8am. It's a popular place, especially with a younger, foreign crowd, models, and various weirdos and transient characters ready to dance all night. They also have a backyard with a pool and a beach, where they host events in the warmer months. Crowd is generally young, with some old heads in the mix. Though this place will likely close sometime in late 2016, the people behind it will keep organizing music festivals like E-MIDI, Great Wall, and more.

Reel To Reel


Different because: House in one room, hip hop in the other, cassettes everywhere. Goes super late on Sunday and Monday.

Underground (literally and figuratively) nightclub near Xintiandi with at least two rooms playing different kinds of music. The cassette-themed club is the brainchild of a super old-school Shanghai DJ named Dave K -- the same guy as popular Jing'an small club, URVC. Unlike that one, this place gets no noise complaints or flack from the neighborhood. In room one, you've got house, disco, and techno on an impressive soundsystem. In the second room, they spin hip hop, R&B, and trap. Depending on the night, they may have a couple other tiny rooms open, and even DJs in the bathroom. The place tends to attract a late night crowd, especially on Sundays for the Rocky Ross jamboree and Mondays for Andrew Bull's Disco Buffet. Sometimes they do international bookings on weekends, but it's mostly Shanghai-based crews on music duty. Drinks are mid-range, like 50rmb for a cocktail or beer. They've also got a couple small VIP rooms. Crowd is mixed local and foreign.



The scene: House, techno, and disco, with frequent bookings on weekends. Weeknights like cartoons and cereal or ping pong.

Intimate nightclub in the busy Donghu Lu neighborhood, with good sound and lights, and house, disco, and techno by local and international DJs. Notably, they've also got ping pong tables and other daytime activities, plus a micro-restaurant that serves cereal and toasties. Drinks are mid-range. The club used to be called LUNE -- an outpost of the LoGO empire -- but some longtime Shanghai promoters and DJs entered the picture in early 2016 and totally redid the place. It's like someone took the LUNE frame and swapped in a supercharged engine with the sound and lighting, along with some other upgrades. Fans of house music and the better elements of the original Lola club will likely dig this one. The place has a community vibe, and generally goes until around 4am on weekends.

Celia by Pulse


You ended up here because: It's 6am and the thought of going home is disturbing.

With Amber Lounge and Dragon Club closed, Celia is the current after hours end-up in Shanghai, in the former home of LoGO on Xingfu. Most nights of the week, the place has local house and tech-house DJs banging it on until 9am on a nice soundsystem. The place feels noticeably less sketchy than some other after-hours spots. Cover is generally 50rmb on weekends, and the crowd is an international clan of people who don't have to do shit the following day, or just don't care.

Mainstream Clubs (Top40, EDM, Bottles, and Models)

M2 (Hong Kong Plaza)


Ideal for: You wanna show some people from out of town a proper night of maximal clubbing. Or just wanna go somewhere busy on a weeknight.

Previously located in Plaza 66, M2 is a classic Shanghai megaclub. On any given night, you've got moneyed young locals and not-necessiarly-moneyed expats dancing and popping bottles under a massive soundsystem and lighting rig. Music is generally EDM and trance, with hip hop and trap on Wednesdays, and they host a fairly regular stream of Top 100 DJs. Like most boom boom clubs, it's loud, bright, and crowded, but M2 has always been one of the better mainstream clubs in town. Beers start around 50rmb, bottles start around 1000rmb (you can usually get a table on weekdays with a bottle), and tables on weekends start around 3000-5000rmb. Weeknights usually go until 3am, while weekends rage until 4-5am.



People go for:  Top 100 DJ bookings, laser lights, CO2 blasts, free flow sensory overload, and young kidz getting crunk.

"Moving You Stunning Trip", a.k.a. MYST, is a massive, three-story club that's impossible to miss thanks to its brightly lit exterior. Inside, tables with champagne crowd the club and dancers put on shows on a stage that rises up out of the dancefloor. They book a lot of big name EDM DJs here -- the sort that end up on the "Top 100 DJs" list -- and they actually have a decent sized dance floor. Popular with both locals and foreigners, especially a younger crowd of international school kids. It's often free entry, but they do charge a cover for some of the bigger DJs. The place goes until about 4am every day.



The scene at 3am: Total abandon. Interns and icy models singing along to the the commercial end of house music.

Long story short, Lola was the place in Shanghai for quality house music bookings, and Hollywood was the place for late late dancing to bad Top40 and mash-up. Then, both of them closed, and Lola moved into the Hollywood space (which used to be called MAO, but that's another story, children...). Now they play commercial big room house, and stay open until around 7am. Crowd is a loaded-up bunch looking to make bad decisions on the late-night tip. Occasionally they book bigger DJs here, but it's usually residents. Drinks start around 60rmb and there's an emphasis on tables.

Le Baron


Ideal for: Being scene, popping bottles, dancing, and networking. And sometimes really good tunes and DJ bookings. Nights like Yeti, Cavia and Co. and China Social Club.

While they do get some underground bookings, Le Baron is a bougie spot with a lot of table service. It's a popular and divisive outpost of a Parisian club that also has venues in New York, Tokyo, and London. Crowd is mixed Chinese and foreign, and tends to be fashion, music, or other industry peeps. Music is generally decent; they play mostly old school disco, new Top40, classics, and hip hop, but depending on the night they may have some more avant garde guest. Some people dance, others just chill at tables poppin' bottles. There's also a rooftop garden and some KTV rooms upstairs. Cocktails range from 80-100rmb, and bottle service of all levels is available. There is a door policy, though it's not super clear. They usually let people in who look cool or rich. Overall, a solid alternative to local clubs and really underground places. Generally goes until 4am.

Monkey Champagne


On offer: True bottle poppin' hip hop club vibes, tables, and celebs rolling through. Friday nights with Hip Hop Hijack. Small and super crowded.

Once-secret lounge sort of hidden down a Donghu Lu lane, Monkey Champagne is the closest place Shanghai has to an American-style Top 40 / hip hop club. The place is packed to the walls with just 200 people, and the crowd is predominantly local, ABC, and well-heeled these days. Expensive drinks, all kinds of Champagne, and super-premium whiskies is the order here. Fridays is the long-running Hip Hop Hijack night, but other nights get into EDM territory. Entrance through Bonobo restaurant. Generally goes until around 4am on weekends.



It's just...: Student crunk in Yangpu Qu.

Cheap, cheap student bar/dance club that's a five minute walk from Fudan University. They've had clubs in Beijing and Tianjin for a decade. Beers start at 20rmb, and they often have bar specials like 5rmb drinks. DJs play Top 40, electronic shiz, hip hop, and reggae. Basically, the leaders of tomorrow getting crunk and grinding it out on the dancefloor. Busy on weekends.



On offer: EDM, big speakers, and bigger lights in a Xintiandi mall. Maximal clubbing any night of the week. Frequent big name Top 100 bookings.

Big, flashy local megaclub that replaced G+ in Xintiandi. It's run by the same group that runs MYST, M1NT, S2, and many more clubs. If you've been to those places, this is similar but with a slightly more futuristic vibe. Expect tables, bottles, EDM music and trance, and a decent sized dancefloor. Sometimes they do international bookings, so expect a cover then, but not on regular nights. Beers from 45rmb, cocktails from 80rmb, and bottles from around 800rmb. Usually goes until around 4am.

Bund Clubs

Bar Rouge


Ideal for: That classic Bund Life. A terrace to show people from out of town. Occasional big-name DJ bookings. Thursday ladies night with free manicures.

Open since 2004, Bar Rouge is the most famous club in Shanghai, and sets the standard for Bund nightlife with its terrace view, classy, sleek interiors and iconic French-Shanghai identity. Bar Rouge kicks off the weekend early with a popular ladies night on Thursdays and always runs until sunrise on Fridays and Saturdays. A must-visit for out-of-towners looking to sample the high end of Shanghai nightlife. Music is generally house and disco, but occasionally they have Latin or hip hop for special events. Notes: guys can't get in with sandals. Gets really busy on weekends, when they usually have a cover charge of around 100rmb (Pro tip: you can often use the password "Miss Rouge" to dodge the cover before midnight)



They've got: Perhaps the strictest dress code in Shanghai, and sharks in tanks.

This is one of the poshest clubs in Shanghai. It's on the top floor of a skyscraper near the Bund and affords nice views of the city. Inside, there are shark tanks and lots of luxurious decor, plus a high-end restaurant, a club, and a lounge area. Drinks are pricey (~100rmb). Music is commercial house, mash-up, some funky house in the week (they play more R&B and hip hop in the lounge). Clientele is mixed Chinese and foreign, with lots of young people on the dance floor and older, dressy folk at tables. There's a door policy, so phoning ahead to reserve a table is often the only way in. They enforce Shanghai's strictest dress code here, to the point where they will sell you pants for a few hundred RMB if you try to come in wearing shorts. But even adhering to that does not ensure entrance.



The story: Latin lounge and club vibes on The Bund. Tuesday salsa nights with free mojitos. Occasionally some great, left-field DJ bookings for jazzy hip hop, funk and house.

Note: Unico will be closed for all of August, 2016 for renovation.

Popular, Latin-themed, grown-and-sexy kinda restaurant and lounge on the Bund. It's a good, casual-but-impressive destination for friends and guests. The quiet window seats in the back are good for dates, and groups will dig the couches in the front. Sometimes they bring in big DJs like Questlove, but most times the music is Latin or soulful / jazzy house. They also have a cigar lounge and a molecular cocktail bar called el Lab. Food is mostly tapas, and good, but not cheap -- expect to pay 200-400rmb per person, at least. Note: men cannot wear shorts or flip-flops. Pro tip: they have free mojitos on Tuesdays for their salsa night.

Other Places with Dance Floors

1. Zapata's: Consistently packed and sleazy, with spring break oblivion vibes and lots of business dudes.

2. Arcade: Small, hip arcade-themed lounge with underground DJs spinning on weekends.

3. The Apartment: Long-running mainstream lounge with DJs and live music on weekends. Popular hook-up spot.

4. Craft: Disco and vodka lounge on Donghu Lu. Good times with DJs on weekends.

5. Lucca: Gay lounge with a decent-sized dancefloor. Busy on weekends. Love shack upstairs.

6. Icon: Pure gay circuit clubbing with a heavily local crowd of men.

7. Linx: Another megaclub dedicated to obscene amounts of bottle-popping and EDM. Lil' Jon played there recently.

8. The Parrot: Soul, funk, and decent-priced drinks at this small club on Donghu Lu.

Happy clubbing. Don't complain about cover charges -- promoters take a big gamble on nights, and they're not getting rich.