Levi Mukarati recently in China
\nTHE traditional “sleeping tiger of the East” is not always napping. As the sun sets and neon lights burn, the tiger awakens and roars with night-life in Beijing, China. For any first time visitor to the Asian country, the impression is that of a daunting history punctuated by oral and written literature.

\n

But the capital is brimming. Twenty-four-hour upscale restaurants, bars and nightclubs transform the shopping hub into a hotspot of intermixing tourists and locals, especially at night.

\n

These night-crawlers are inspired by sound, lights and various tastes that come with the darkness. They mainly seek entertainment from the joints that are arguably some of the world’s finest.

\n

No offence intended, but this writer is of the belief that some clubs that are rated top-class in Zimbabwe can be found in Chinese areas we can equate to our Gandavaroyi, Gokwe.

\n

My point, we are not there yet when it comes to night-life.
\nThe same lighting effects that seem to mesmerise us in our so-called top local clubs could probably have been used in a Chinese pre-school auditorium some five years ago. Western standards and lifestyle have taken over on a massive scale. The new lifestyle comes at a price, though, Beijing is damn expensive. The Chinese have perfected the Western lifestyle and even gone a notch higher, especially in entertainment.

\n

Interestingly, the mostly youthful party animals hardly speak English, but their entertainment joints play 90 percent latest Western r&b, hip-hop, rap and dance mixes.

\n

“The Chinese patrons are familiar with the big names in Western music circles. They sing along to the music hitting the charts, but don’t understand the lyrics,” says a Nigerian DJ who migrated from his Africa and has been playing in various clubs on the Bar Street in Beijing for the past 15 years.

\n

“To the Chinese, who are the big spenders here, it is more of the music beat than the words. They love Western music,” he adds.
\nBut the revellers do not just dance wildly to the music with nothing to drink.

\n

They are heavy drinkers who part with big money too as the cheapest cocktails at the bar start at 90 RMB (Yuan) or US$15.
\nLocal Chinese beer such as Tsingtao and Yanjin can demand a cool 50 RMB or about US$$9 for a 640 millilitre bottle. The imbibers appear unperturbed when quenching their thirst and have a penchant for expensive Scotch whiskey, ram or brandy as well.

\n

By the way, it is not only in Beijing where when daylight fades colourful choices emerge with the night. A hop to one of the “most happening” F1 club in Quanzhou revealed how patrons outdo each other buying top alcohol brands in bigger bottles of Hennessy Black, Jonnie Walker Platinum or Heaven Hill for not less than 10 000 RMB or nearly US$1 700, yes, US$1 700?

\n

And the purchase comes with a treat — a sceptre and a crown decorated with flashing LED lights for male buyers or a tiara for the female big spenders. Amid this, the DJs bring the house to acknowledge the big spenders.

\n

Young male waiters in black suits, silver shirts, black 3D glass frames, red bow ties and matching red shoes do the rounds all night with platters of sea food.

\n

The treat blends well with the high quality lighting system perched almost on the entire ceiling, heavy bass music, a futuristic interior theme and an elevated dance floor in the middle of the club.

\n

To bring a different style, four DJs in four different booths alternate to keep the imbibers in the club on their feet while spicing up the mood to mesmerising lighting effects.

\n

Back to Beijing and to the Bar Street to be precise, famous bars such as Boys and Girls, Swing, Lan Kwai Fong or Red Moon present the life some of my colleagues were eager to know about.

\n

Before asking how my two-week stay had been in China, many were curious to know about the women there. Yes, your guess is right, that is exactly what they meant.

\n

Every city has its own night-life and there is no exception that women tend to be the bait. Like any other place, alcohol can be served the English way — starter, main meal and dessert.

\n

But as long as you are not a male Asian, you can also be served a side dish of danger if you dare tread on the “sensitive”.
\nSo it is always good to have fun, but if you know you would want ‘more’ fun, stay in a group.

\n

That way you will be discouraged from enjoying the fun at a cost of at least a tooth or black eye.
\nBut that is if you ever manage to speak to the women.

\n

Even those evidently searching for male clients (sex workers) tend to ignore foreigners because of their cultural background.
\n“A Chinese woman cannot have a relationship with a foreigner. Even if she decides to relocate to the foreigners’ country, back here her family faces discrimination from the society. So for us it is taboo to marry a foreigner especially from Europe or Africa,” said a 25-year-old lady, Wu Jianying who provided translation services for some other formal business for us.

\n

However, night-life is not always fair. A chance encounter with women from Nigeria and Ghana revealed that women from other countries have no problems similar to those encountered by non-Asian men.

\n

Together with the four women — three Nigerians and one Ghanaian — who claimed to be primary school teachers, we formed a group of eight bound by an African background and went for a binge.

\n

But failure to speak Mandarin or other local language by these women, gave them up. Maybe they teach strictly English or “other” lessons.
\nAfter two painful cash-sucking rounds of liquor and further quizzing, one of the women who only identified herself as Maureen sold out the rest.

\n

The woman, obviously after concluding from our discussions and how amazed we were on the “reckless” money spending in the part of the country, knew she had nothing to lose, but something to gain by putting a price tag on herself.

\n

Despite her modest clothes and not so attractive looks, she boasted that her night’s “quotation” did not go below US$250.
\n“Men this side really pay compared to you African men who see women as objects,” she said upon realising how all the men in the group appeared surprised and in disbelief.

\n

“The clientele is there because there are more bars and we do not feel threatened. The local women here fear confronting us since we move in groups. Generally we operate freely.”

\n

This bi-polar mix of modernity is what Beijing is now all about. You regularly see residents playing Mahjong in the streets, practice tai chi or other martial arts in the parks, but a younger generation, by contrast, is up to date with global night-life trends of any Londoner, New Yorker or those from Mombasa.