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The In-Between: Live House

0914_bar reviewLivehouse, in most ways, is your typical Chinese bar. About the size of a KFC, primary colors and spinning lasers dart all around as a house singer wails “nothin’s gonna change my love for you, you oughtta know by now how much I love you!” He kind of killed it! I was touched.

The menu boasts nothing special, but the pricing is lower than you’ll find at the McBars on bar street. For 100 or 180 yuan you can get a half dozen or dozen, respectively, of cold Tsingdao, Budweiser or “Green Barley” beer from the Tibetan highland, which might better be sequestered in the autonomous region.

A narrow stage area cradles a live band on some nights against a painting of NASA’s famous “Blue Marble” photo, having sprouted angel wings. The space between the tables is room to dance, and, most pleasingly, the music is played loud enough to be a party but quiet enough to carry a conversation. The McBars could take a page from Livehouse’s playbook.

The walls are adorned with random framed photos and Christmas decorations. Most of the night played a mix of dance music from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and naughts, with a spattering of Chinese pop tunes, over the arrhythmic clacking of dice. Live Michael Jackson performances played silently on the screens, a motif consistent with the mirthful spirit of the bar.

The servers were friendly and eager to please, but not well trained. After a few attempts at ordering, they presented us with Long Islands, cold, but little ice and flat Coke. The pink bendy straws were a nice touch. Eventually, we were offered fresh cucumber and peanuts. Settling the bill, I helped the staff use the card reader.

A trip to the toilet reveals a ragtag duo of squatty potties in tiny stalls, loosely designated for each sex. Ladies will not benefit from the privacy of their own WC, and it is neither exceptionally clean or dirty.

Ask the taxi driver to drop you off at the hulking Nancheng Walking Street sign and backtrack north a few minutes on the sidewalk parallel to the main road. The bar is at the far end of the complex.

Find Live House here.