Well, no, not for me, it hasn't. Apart from a few brief exploratory and fairly unmemorable visits in the spring of their first year, I didn't start hanging out in 12 Square Metres until the occasion of their 1st Anniversary Party - four years ago today.
From that day on, though, it quickly became a central part of my life. God, at times I really don't know what I would have done without it. Left China, probably....
Anyway, the talk of leaving China is rather more urgent and earnest now for nearly all of us; and, given the way Nanluoguxiang is going, the bar itself surely can't last another year.... so, today we're going to party like it's THE END OF THE WORLD. Because it is, kind of. Very nearly the end of an era, anyway, an important and fondly remembered period of my life.
I've been having a bit of a nostalgic wallow in the songs of The Beautiful South lately, having rediscovered a couple of their early albums while I was on holiday last month. This has long been a quirky favourite of mine, from their Blue Is The Colour album: it's Paul Heaton having a bit of fun with a Tom Waits impression (both in the lyrical style and the vocal delivery) - Liar's Bar. I've been looking for this on YouTube for years, but it's only recently started appearing. This is a rather good live performance from a short-lived Channel 4 music programme of the mid-90s called The White Room.
These lines seem particularly resonant when I think of the odd community of waifs and strays our little bar has attracted over the years. Indeed, they might well be my own epitaph! [Full lyrics here.]
He's a worldwide traveller
He's not like me or you
But he comes in mighty regular
For one who's passing through