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This Is What the JZ Club Looks Like Now

"JZ comes home." Here's a look inside Shanghai jazz mainstay JZ Club's new venue in the Da Tong Mill.
Last updated: 2016-10-18
In a solid display of brand synergy, last weekend the JZ Corp. not only hosted their yearly two-day JZ Festival event in Expo Park but re-opened their flagship venue, the JZ Club, in the permanently-under-construction Da Tong Mill at 158 Julu Lu. It was a packed opening night last Friday — the fedoras people were out in force — with half of Shanghai in attendance for some world class jazz music.

The club is now open to all, hosting live music seven days a week. This is what the JZ Club looks like now.

The Space

It’s big. Real big. It’s red. It’s real red.

Doubling in capacity from their storied space which closed last year on Fuxing Lu, the new JZ Club is oriented as a proper theater space / concert hall, with a stage set up at one end and basically the entire rest of the club a general audience table seating area, a booth seating area, and a back table seating area, all directed towards the stage. There’s the bar at the side and two private rooms up top. But yeah, it’s big. Looks to seat at least 300 people, with more able to cram in along the aisles. And they do tend to cram them in there for big events as well.

Yes, it’s real red. If you’ve been to the OG JZ Club on Fuxing before it closed, the new place will be a very familiar vibe. Heavy, red curtains adorn the walls, art deco lamps dimly illuminate the tables, and “Old Shanghai” accents are sprinkled throughout. Although it definitely feels more like a concert hall as opposed to the jazz bar vibe of the old one, it’s also got that dark and smoky classic Old Shanghai atmosphere that defines their style. The new venue is only like three days old and already looks like it’s seen some shit.

The Music

Live music seven days a week. The JZ Club is an empire now with an armada of bars already open in this city (in addition to this, they’ve got Wooden Box, JZ Latino, and the JZ School), not to mention well-reviewed venues in Hangzhou and Guangzhou. As such, they can cast a pretty wide net these days in attracting in national Chinese jazz (and blues and Latin and soul) talent, even though most of it is still resides in Shanghai. From their days hosting in Shanghai-based expat and local musicians, they’re now hosting in national-level artists, internationally touring artists, along with the classic Shanghai-traveled faces you’ve come to know and love. (What’s left of them anyways.) Cover charges are infrequent but for bigger international acts you might have to shell out at the door.

The Drinks

"I Love Jazz" (88rmb)

JZ is known for the wine and the whiskey. At premium prices. This much is still very much true. They’ve got a great wine list and whiskey list at the new place. Extensive range of single malts (Bowomore, Jura, Glenkinchie, Dalmore, Glenfarclas, Clymelish, and more) at around 85rmb per glass. Good selection of house wines from 58rmb per glass for the cheapest. Classic cocktails around 75rmb to 85rmb. Yeah, it’s not cheap. They’ve got their target market. For sure.

"How Insensitive" (88rmb)

For signature cocktails… eh, trust me stick to the wine, whiskey, and maybe martinis. They’ve got a new line of “signature cocktails” printed in comic sans on the menu with names like “I Love Jazz” and “How Insensitive” and “JZ Spring” and “Earth Lounge” (what?). For 88rmb a piece. I tried like 6 of them and they ranged from disappointing to “this tastes like straight-up pencil erasers”. Signature cocktails need work. No doubt about it. To temper that criticism, they’ve only been open for three days. Hopefully, that gets fixed.

There is no burn on earth, though, like paying friggin’ 88rmb for a bad drink.

The Verdict

JZ Club is back. Bigger and bolder, yeah, but basically the same as it ever was. It’s a “Shanghai institution” — cliché to say, sure — but it’s as much a definitive part of this city as another very, very red bar a few blocks Bund-wards. Crowd is jazz folk, both of the mildly interesting and super tedious variety, bougey rich people, bougey poor people, people entranced by the music on stage, and people talking too loudly and smoking cigars in the back. Visiting and life-long expats mingling with rich and ultra rich locals. Good place to watch music. Good place to ignore music entirely. It’s real international. It’s real Shanghai. Old Shanghai. And this new one we’ve got now…


The JZ Club is at 158 Julu Lu in the Da Tong Mill.