“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Do you know who said that? And no, it’s not Homer Simpson.
Those famous words were spewed from one of the founding fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin. It also makes me wonder, since he loved beer so much, if that was the true reason behind him flying the kite in a thunderstorm. I can imagine a drunken Ben with his friends at a pub having a few pints on a dark and stormy night when Ben got up, wobbled over to where a kite lay, and drunkenly joked, “You gents dare me to do something outrageous?”
They probably protested like drunks usually do—shaking their heads and screaming no, but deep down in their blitzed minds thinking yes, yes, yes. Without the aid of a time a machine, I suppose we will never ‘truly’ know.
But back to the main point of the article, where can an expat living in Wuhan go to enjoy a night out with friends and a refreshing brewski. First, I know that everyone seeks different sorts of environments when going out—some like the jazzy sorts of clubs that are dark, quiet and full of soul calming beats. Others want their personal Mos Eisley to be jammed pack with sexy ladies and a spacious dance floor to get their groove on while swaying to the electronic beats of Lady Gaga. While some might just like to watch a big football match over a pint to later smash it in the face of another hooligan when their team looses the match.
The point of all this is simple—everyone has different needs and wants for their watering hole. I myself like the more quiet places because I enjoy socialising while I drink and hate screaming over music or watching my buddy get pummeled by some guy pissed off because his favourite striker missed a penalty shot. In light of all that, I’m going to list three bars which cover most of the spectrum of needs an expat might consider or want while pissing the night away.
1) Prison Bar (Folk Hand Music Bar)View In Map
This might be the first bar on my list, but it’s not the best. In fact, if I were to be completely honest with you, this place is a dive. It’s small, often overcrowded and the bathrooms might be the gateway to Hell. This might not come to anyone’ surprise when you consider the owner is the drummer for an underground metal band in Wuhan. With that in mind, the interior of the place sort of mashes perfectly with the attitude of metal music being loud, drunk and fun.
This is a free-for-all establishment, a mosh pit disguised as a greasy, dirty bar. Inside you’ll find the typical beers commonly found in China starting at around 5 RMB, harder spirits for those of you wanting to blitzkerg your mind into happy oblivion, and they even offer absinthe. I drank absinthe once at university and let me tell you something people, its awesome. It taste great, goes down smooth, and knocks (while it rocks) your socks off.
The typical clientele of the Prison bar is mostly composed of foreigners. Expats from across the globe converge here to swap stories, buy underground Chinese punk albums, and eat BBQ. Sometimes there are live acts, both local and from overseas. Sometimes bands performing at VOX will venture here afterwards, so fans can have the chance to sit down with them and share a drink. In fact one of the establishment’s founders, Wu Wei, mentioned in an interview, “I think the bar is better, because when the bands play in VOX after the show they have no place to go—just hang around on the street.”
So if you’re sick of VOX and can’t stand listening to anymore dance music or just wish to try a new place, why not visit Prison Bar.
Add: 1F, Guoguang Hotel, Luxiang Lumo Lu, Wuchang District, Wuhan
Opening hours: 21:00-02:00
2) Blue Sky Cafe 蓝色天空咖啡 View In Map
To most expats living in the Wuhan area, the Blue Sky Cafe hardly needs an introduction. It’s famous. And there’s good reason for that too.
First, the environment is great. During the day it offers all kinds of Western style foods from things like steaks, Mexican fajitas and even Turkish shawarmasheds. In order to find out just how great their steaks were, I took my buddy from Australia there for dinner. Afterwards, as he cleaned the juice from his lips, I asked him how it was. His response, “Well let me give you the dinkie-die on the Blue Sky’s steak, mate. Its bonzor! I like to av-a-go of one with a nice cold grog, but if you don’t like it don’t whinge to me.” So there you go.
During the day they also offer special fish dishes and imported goose and wines from France. Their deserts are pretty nice too…and should you go I highly recommend their pancakes a la Francaise. Though the food is great and the atmosphere of both of their locations is clean, quiet and excellent, it can be pricy. Just for dinner and a few drinks, expect to pay 100 to 200 RMB. But if a night out on the town doesn’t come with any money restrictions, treat yourself. Afterwards, stick around, because at night the Blue Sky Cafe becomes one of the hottest joints in the Wuhan area.
Foreigners arrive here in droves once the sun sets, sort of like beer craving vampires. The music on any given night might be blues to pop to ear blasting house beats, served up every Friday—their Rave Night.
In addition to that, happy hour is from 24:00 to 01:00 and they have a wonderful offer—buy one, get one free. This is my favourite bit. I’m a nut for Guinness and this deal is like a small blessing as I buy three, but get six lovely bottles. I wish Guinness was on tap, but I’ll take it anyway I can get it.
Blue Sky Cafe is also a great place to go for New Years. The place is packed with people and everyone is having a fantastic time—dancing, drinking and puking on each other’s shoes in the toilet. But its all gravy, baby, and everyone goes home happy. One suggestion, get their early most evenings, because seats are limited and arriving late means you’ll spend most of the night standing.
Add: 735 Jiefang Avenue, Hankou District, Wuhan
Tel: 027 8575 9937, 027 8580 7466
Opening hours: 22:00–02:00
3) Helen’s CafeView In Map
Another choice for you to visit in Wuhan is a lovely little chain gang offering. I know there are a lot of fun little pubs off the beaten track and some of them might even be better, cheaper and have some of the best go-go dancers in all the lands—but there’s just something safe about chains.
This is one started in Beijing, but don’t let the decorations or the English name fool you; this place is 100% Chinese. When I first visited, I thought it was from Holland or something…I mean they wear wooden shoes!
In fact, Helen’s is not only a great place to enjoy a drink or meal; it's a great place to learn more about one of China’s rarest minorities: the Tujia. Everything inside Helen’s is created by hand. Even the trees used as decorations are picked by the people for their natural beauty. Walking inside Helen’s is like stepping into a museum that offers beer.
What makes this place a must-visit isn’t the food or the drinks. It's the people. Most of the expats I’ve spoken to about Helen’s make interesting parallels with this bar and a famous one back in the States—where everyone seems to know your name? Ring any bells? For those of you who don’t get the reference, it’s “Cheers.” At Helen’s, the staff are warm and will, in time, become more than just a simple waitress or bartender. They will become your friend.
Add: 8 Zuodaoquan Beilu, Hongshan District, Wuhan
Tel: 027 8786 7179
Opening hours: 22:00-02:00
So there you have it. Those are the three main bars I recommended you check out in Wuhan. Should you have another place you love to hit when needing a drink post it below so other expats in Wuhan know where they can go for some grub, fun and a mean pint of golden goodness.
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Also have Burton Bar and La Provence Bar in the culture street of Huazhong Normal University(华中师范大学), well known as Huaxi University. A lot of foreigners go there, especially students. They have good prices and nice music. The foreigners just return home in the next day around 6:00 to 9:00 am. It is a very popular place.
Feb 27, 2012 07:32 Report Abuse