Originally written for New Express, a major Chinese newspaper.
Bars in China are either alive, or dead. By alive I mean people are interacting, chatting, joking and the atmosphere seems friendly and inviting. A lot of Chinese bars, especially street bars are like this. You also have the dead bars, the expensive bars that try to pretend they are western by having high prices and nothing else, or the KTV’s where the music is too loud or people are too drunk, too shy, or too bored to do any talking. I like bars that are alive, and the best bar in Guangzhou for this is Perry’s Cafe. I love going to Perry’s in Guangzhou, and I would go more often if my friend had not told my wife that Parries’ is where all the pretty foreign girls hang out. Perry’s is a great western bar, like nothing else I’ve seen in china. Most Chinese bars are for chatting with your friends and drinking a far too many beers, Perry’s isn’t like that. You go there, and if you get a table, there is a 50% change that you will be sharing it with strangers, who by the end of the night will be on your wechat and be your new best buddies.
This is how a normal night goes for me when I got to Perry’s. I walk past the walls painted with graffiti, step in a cool, quite elevator and then step out into the loud and exciting Perry’s. Hookahs are puffing up flavored smoke, and both Chinese and foreigners are hitting together 10RMB bottles of tingsao in cheers. I’ll walk around the tables, squeezing through the tight corridors of smiling customers as I look for a seat. There is always a table to join, and if I am too shy to join the table, I can ask the waiter and he will ask the table if I can join them – they always say yes. I’ll order a beer and a veggie burger as I meet my new friends, share stories and laugh over great jokes. As the crowd grows and the moon rises, people a bit drunk, or not at all, will start to dance. The dances are chaotic, unplanned, but beautiful. People dance on their own, or with the parents, some form circles where people take turn dancing in the middle as others watch on. When it gets hot, people order another round of beer or water, but no matter how much they sweat, the dancing lasts into the night. At 1 or 2 am, our muscles can’t carry us any long and we rest, we relax and let our smiles widen across our faces and we talk about the awesome night we just had.
Parries’ is awesome, and I love it. If you want visit it too. There are three in Guangzhou, but the best is near Guangzhou East Railway, just outside of Exit F, turn at Winston hotel and you can find Perry’s beside the 7/11.