By Drake Moreau
I’ve always associated Wudaokou with the opening scene of Blade. A young American guy with a dumb and full-of-cum look is led by an attractive Russian past a burley bearded bouncer into a nightclub. It has every characteristic of a night club: flashes of darkness amid strobe and techno lights, minimal maneuvering, bumping, pushing, tugging, tripping, biting. And wetness. Everyone in clothing appropriate for Carnival yet still drenched as if they’d run through sprinklers. As we all know (if you don’t, consider this a spoiler alert for the movie Blade), the liquid is actually blood, the American guy’s actually in a vampire-infested den, and just as he’s about to get eaten, Wesley Snipes swoops in and wipes everyone out with a sword.
Yeah, so that’s how I pictured the club scene there. And then, last month, I visited Wu Club, and the resemblance became even more apparent.
I couldn’t bear to go sober or before midnight. What the hell would I have done there? I was afraid I’d walk in and feel like John Kimble from Kindergarten Cop as peppy kids wreak havoc on the classroom, except the classroom in this case was a dance floor and wreaking havoc involved consuming a substantial amount of (certainly fake) alcohol, and peppy meant horny. (Though I probably wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to use the line, “Who is your daddy, and vhaat does he do?”) I’m no old man, but I like to think of myself as having evolved from the undergraduate party scene. So my friend Stan and I decided to have drinks in his apartment, then move on to 1F, then 2F, then Aperitivo, and finally Smugglers. We thought it would be a good idea to at least prepare in some way for what we were about to encounter, and nothing symbolizes Wudaokou in Sanlitun more than Smuggler’s.
We arrived at Wudaokou around 1:30 or 2. The cab fare just added insult to our sure-to-come injury. Wu is basically a cellar with accessories. After walking down a few sets of stairs and getting the back of my hand stamped, I began to taste the air. You might say I should be accustomed to that from living in Beijing, but alcohol-sweat fumes have their own unique flavor. The first room, comprising a few sets of sofas and tables with a bar and stools on the side, was so low in energy and stuffy I thought people were passing out from living with their own boring selves. The adjacent room was the main attraction, with loud Top-40 music featuring shitty techno beats added to songs like Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know, a bar menu with a slew of 10-kuai shots, and the essential feature: dark corners.
The club’s finest element of class came in the form of an elevated platform about a foot high with a stripper pole stretching from its base to the ceiling. And for the proverbial icing on the cake — rings hanging from the ceiling. Yes! Olympic-style rings spaced about shoulder-width apart, just hanging there, ready to be used for gymnast feats of strength or super-charged dance moves. Both require lucidity. What the hell do the owners think goes on in this space? Maybe drinking more will make the reasoning apparent.
Most surprising, though, was the proportion of black to non-black people (if you’re offended by this statement, you’re probably a racist who deserves the nearest Thousand Oaks Country Club). This was like a dirty, grimy Soul Train dance floor, with much trashier music and equally shitty dancers. Sprinkled in between were young Western students ready to take Beijing, greater China, and the international political and economic arena by storm with their passion and intellect for China and its affairs, and by the sheer arrogant stupidity that comes with unruffled youth.
Stan and I moved to the bar and ordered the usual shooters and shots: slippery nipples, red and blonde headed sluts, blow jobs, tequila and vodka. It wasn’t long before the dance floor called out to us. I casually made my way over to a couple of young girls dancing together. Long hair swinging over their shoulders, one in a short dress and the other in even shorter shorts, they immediately grabbed each other’s hands and started dancing closer to each other. I was effectively eliminated from the equation without even having entered it. In the words of the infamous mid-naughts’ My New Haircut YouTube clip: “Fuckin’ skanks!”
Thing was, this was a situation that I couldn’t move on from. Stan had the same problem. We didn’t fit into the two demographics Wu apparently caters to: blacks and Western students (good on ya if you’re both). Furthermore, Stan and I were in this ambiguous cloud between “too young to count as creepy old men and not give a fuck” and“too old to start grinding up with students.” What were we to do? Like the awkward dude who sways at a rave, we maintained our unwanted presence on the dance floor. We were like the Chinese government: fully convinced we had to be there to make sure everyone was content and having a good time when in fact everyone just wanted us the fuck out of their faces.
All of a sudden, I could feel it coming on… the drunk munchies. Apparently Wu’s delicious beverage menu is accompanied by a food menu that is equally representative of the bar’s quality: 10 RMB burgers and 15 RMB pizzas. “Burger me up, Wu bitch,” I stammered at the counter.
I waited, surrounded by masses of fine black booties shaking with a few big black men watching and occasionally joining the shaking. I turned over my shoulder to look into one of the semi-circled booths indented into the wall. On the table rested a bottle of something in a bucket of water, several glasses half-drunk and others empty, and a perfectly uneaten cheeseburger on a plate. The amount of willpower it took to not walk over and indulge myself, I tell you, is enough to fuel a thousand suns. I harassed (playfully?) the barkeeps, asking them where my food was. Waited a few minutes and asked again. My dick will mashang lai up your ass if don’t bring my grub!
Finally, the kitchen stuck out a burger on the windowsill. I snatched it, nodded at the staff, and proceed to inhale. I think it took me five bites to demolish the thing. Still hungry, I turned to look for Stan and saw him stumbling on the dance floor with a girl in some weird position in his arms, like an upper-body Kama Sutra position gone horribly wrong. My watch read 3:30, but the hour hand could also have been 4, so… 4:30? I remember telling myself to get the hell out.
I managed to hail a cab surprisingly fast, heading east. I used one hand to flip through my phone, seeing if there was anybody I could call. But in my mind, I’d already won. In my other hand was another burger, one that I didn’t have to pay 10 kuai for.