FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Shanghai: Night Vibes

by Irene Rawlings

Dec 5, 2019

The Long Bar at Waldorf Astoria on the Bund
PHOTO: © HILTON

December 2019

DURING THE 1920S AND ’30S, Shanghai was known as the Paris of the Orient — glamorous and decadent with a vibrant nightlife. A century later, Shanghai still parties hard. Most bars and clubs stay open until 3 a.m.; some don’t close their doors until 5 a.m.

The Long Bar, opened in 1910 as a British gentlemen’s club, remains retro but is now part of the elegantly restored Waldorf Astoria on the Bund. Find wildly expensive drinks and Hollywood A-listers at the packed-every-day-of-the-week Bar Rouge, with a bonus: amazing views across the Huangpu River toward futuristic Pudong. Speak Low boasts four boozy floors, each with a different vibe. Devotees of rare pours head directly to the top floor.

Among other favorites, Monkey Champagne hosts a young, fun, cash-rich crowd and DJs spinning a top-40 hip-hop mix. Shanghai’s oldest gay bar, 390, hosts a mix of gay and straight, resident and foreign patrons who come here for great music and affordable drinks.

Shanghai was a top destination for touring jazz musicians in the 1920s and ’30s … and still is today. Locals headline at small and glam Heyday; big names from New York (two shows a week) appear at Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai. With wooden tables, wooden chairs and black-and-white photographs of jazz greats on the walls, the House of Blues & Jazz attracts younger jazz aficionados. Step back into a 1920s speakeasy at The Jazz Bar at Fairmont Peace Hotel, catering to an older crowd — even the musicians are octogenarians.

The after-hours literary crowd heads to Madame Mao’s Dowry for poetry readings and the occasional open mic. During the day, it is a quirky shop stocked with Communist-era items like vintage Mao- style jackets and old propaganda posters.

Feeling peckish? Super-fancy Hakkasan, a Michelin-starred restaurant, offers creative takes on classic Cantonese dishes. For jaw- dropping views, reserve a table at Oriental Pearl Tower Revolving Restaurant. The buffet may not be 5-star, but the nighttime Shanghai skyline is. Grab a cab to Xintiandi, boasting old Shikumen-style townhouses converted to a trendy shopping and dining bazaar. Sample cheap, authentic street food at the night markets, including grilled seafood kabobs; rice and crayfish snacks; steamed buns (bao); and steamed, boiled and pan-fried dumplings. Changli Road Night Market remains hugely popular with dumpling-obsessed locals.

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