by Paul Bacon
Rotherham, United Kingdom
October 1, 2006
Nestled between the more vaunted locales of Poachers Inn and the Hidden Tree, Kai may not be the biggest, brightest, or most hyped of venues in Beijing, but it is well worth the visit. It is a compact two-storey affair with a small bar and even smaller dance-floor on ground level and an array of soft-furniture upstairs.
Our first night on the tiles in Beijing was a Sunday. Accordingly whilst Kai was busy it wasn’t crammed to the gills. There was plenty of space upstairs to relax allowing us happily drape ourselves on a couple of comfy seats, tuck into a few 10RMB beers and stare at the stars through the glass roof. We soon found our surroundings even more comfortable when we discovered it was just 5RMB for anything on a comprehensive menu of shooters. So after a few banana boats, lube jobs and kamikazes we were well on our way along our first tour of Beijing at night.
The second trip to Kai was on a Friday night and things were a little different. Whilst the dance-floor on Sunday had been occupied, things had been breathable. With the ex-pat community out for some weekend revels though, it had a claustrophobic feel that was impressive even by Chinese standards. Space was at such a premium in fact that the party spilled out into the street where we stood with countless others.
The road outside Kai is closed to traffic ensuring it easy to stand chat and mingle. Both Poachers and the Hidden Tree are just few feet away so the area is generally bustling with people making their way between the two; the usual route being to stop off at Kai on the way. Next door is Shooters, a downmarket version of Kai which provides, as it’s name would suggest, cheap shots. Just as with Kai though it too struggles to accommodate everyone on a Friday or Saturday evening with its customers also joining the melee in the street.
Given Kai’s size and the proximity of more well-known venues, I could never see it as being home for a full evening; I would always want to head on somewhere else. Yet for any tour of Beijing it is a definite stop between bars and on the way to drunkenness.
From journal Tender is the Beijing Night