Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm walkin'....

One of my gig-lovin' gal pals was trying to drag me over to the east side the other night for a show at new(ish) venue, Mako Live House.

I found myself deeply resistant (and not just because the weather's getting hot, and the place doesn't have any air-conditioning.... although that is certainly going to be another major discouragement until around the end of September). The place is beyond the two 'magic lines': east of the Third Ringroad and south of Chang'an Dajie. (There is a third 'magic line' - west of Houhai - which puts paid to Obi-Wan; but there is so little that would entice any foreigner to the west side of town, even within the Second Ringroad, that this one is scarcely ever in play.) I don't like to go outside of the Second Ringroad if I can help it; and I will only go beyond the Third - on special occasions, under sufferance - in the north-west or north-east quadrants of the city, where there are well-established enclaves of 'civilization'. Ditto the south: even within the Second Ringroad, it is strange and unappealing territory, somewhere I'd only ever go for a touristy excursion (Dazhilan, Liulichang, Tiananmen, Tiantan, Panjiayuan...); heck, I used to have a job in an office building on the south side of Chang'an Dajie, and even that felt weird to me - what am I doing on this side of the road?!

My 'world', in fact, is these days essentially confined to the four large blocks between the Gulou and Yonghegong subway stops, and between the North Second Ring and Dianmen Dongdajie/ZhangZizhong Lu. It requires an enormous - and disorienting - leap of the imagination to even begin to conceive of going.... nearly a mile outside of the Third Ringroad and getting on for four miles south of Dongsi Shitiao.

And, really, quite apart from the dubious quality of the gigs on offer, and the tiresome slog of getting all the way out there (and back), why would I bother?

I can WALK almost everywhere I ever want to go. Nearly every decent music club in town is within a radius of two miles or so of my apartment.

Even Yugong Yishan (rarely a venue that I would want to visit) is less than 45 minutes away on foot. My favourite cosy spot Jianghu and the newly opened VA Bar at the far end of the Wudaoying Hutong are barely 35 minutes away; while East Shore Jazz Café, Mao Live House (if it ever opens again; still no signs of life this last weekend - but I'm keeping my fingers crossed) and Ginkgo (if I ever go there again, which I'm seriously starting to doubt) are only 20 minutes away; charming newcomer Zui Yuefang is only 15 minutes away, Jiangjinjiu just 10 minutes; the newest opening in my 'hood, 121 Jiugulou Dajie, is even closer, and the very promising Dashibei Hutong bistro The Orange Tree only a few minutes further.

With such a wealth of music venue choices virtually on my doorstep, only my long-standing affection for 2 Kolegas is ever likely to take me further afield. Sorry, Mako - as far as I'm concerned, you might as well have set up in Tianjin.

All of which seems like a cue for a song....... Fats Domino performing his hit I'm Walkin' with Ricky Nelson.

[The original Fats Domino recording is here.]

1 comment:

Froog said...

One or two of my friends overseas have snarked that horizons are too limited if I never stray outside of 4 city blocks. I must point out that in the centre of Beijing, a 'block' is usually at least two-thirds of a mile along each side, sometimes more like a mile; thus, my 4-block stomping ground is actually a pretty big area.

And I do stray beyond its edges from time to time: south to Jingshan Park, or towards the upper end of Wangfujing St, east to the restaurant strip of Gui Jie, west to the Shichahai lakes area, and the hutongs beyond. In fact, I live about a quarter of a mile to the west of my 'magic square', so I'm in and out of it every day.

I suppose it's a bit like spending 90% of your time in London's West End. Only cheaper....