We're going David Attenborough on Shanghai's nightlife scene, observing and cataloging the various species and behaviours of the guys you encounter while clubbing in Shanghai. Maybe you've met one of these guys. Maybe you've gone home with one of these guys, maybe you are one of these guys.
The Guy Trying to Score Free Drinks from Total Strangers
This guy will stand out as the only laowai sitting at a table full of locals. You’d be wrong to assume that he's bridging cultural gaps, striving to create a world envisioned only in Benneton ads. It's actually a big elaborate ruse to get drunk on someone else's hard-earned RMB. Watch more closely, and you'll see him blathering on in his HSK 3-level Chinese, shaking the dice cup with aplomb (he's learned all of the bar games solely for this purpose), and snapping selfies. Meanwhile, he exploits the table for their hospitality with an almost reflex-like tendency to fill an empty glass, taking well more than his fair share, which, seeing as how he has no intention of chipping in, is zero. What his gracious hosts don't realize is that this friendship will last only about as long as it takes to finish a bottle of Chivas. Once it's empty, he stumbles out of the club, never to be seen by his new "friends" ever again.
Standing alone, this species is almost indistinguishable from his counterparts. But put him in a crowded room, and he becomes much easier to spot. Pay close attention to the women. As he passes behind them, they'll most like jump in shock and disgust, a natural reaction to being furtively felt up. This nocturnal animal has a notoriously short lifespan, because it's only a matter of time before he "eats the wrong woman's tofu," as they say here in China, and he gets a beat down from a 'roid raging boyfriend.
The Guy Who Just Left a Themed Party on the Bund
You've seen enough flyers for those posh free-flow parties on the Bund. The dress code always a color, article of clothing, or a style of dress preceded by the word "sexy", or "chic", or both. You know, like "Sexy Viking" or "Chic Scottish Tartan" or "Chic & Sexy Gas Station Attendant". This is the one guy who actually goes through the trouble of dressing up for these things. Rather than leaving the party and taking a quick stop at home to put on something more dignified, he just goes to the next club in full regalia. He's had several overly diluted drinks, but it’s enough liquid courage to get him to approach any random girl and make her guess what kind of party he just came from. Rubbing it in everyone else's face about how he got the secret hook-up the party because he "knows the guy at the door."
The Token Westerner Who's Paid to be There
Here is one of Shanghai's worst kept secrets: a lot of Shanghai nightclubs actually pay pretty non-Chinese people to be in their clubs. Some clubs have them circulating about the dance floor like normal free-range human beings. Other clubs display them like zoo animals in the booth closest to the entrance. It's based on the condescending assumption that Chinese people don't know what's cool and therefore need to see that club they're in has a Western stamp of approval. He's most easily identified by an expression of boredom. After prolonged exposure to this environment, that boredom eventually turns to sad desperation and regret at a wasted life.
The Guy Who Builds a Sofa With Dom Perignon Bottles
Some creatures have throat patches that expand by filling them with air. Some brandish colorful tail feathers. Others engage in ritualistic dances. But this guy attempts to attract mates by maxing out his credit card on bottles of Dom. He then engages in the peculiar behavior of stacking them up on and around his table like cushions in a sofa fort. It's more than he and his "friends" who only hang with him for his money could ever consume in a week much less a sitting. Peer just beyond the bottles of overpriced bubbly and you'll see a guy a paunchy guy in in his early 40s wearing a tracksuit and Adidas slippers. Usually found with a gaggle of maybe-too-young long legged women by his side.
14 Going on 24
He benefits from non-existent drinking ages, lax door policies, and absentee parenting. You can identify him by clothes that don't entirely fit—something is always a little too baggy or droopy. He still wears LYNX body spray because it’s the only industrial mix that can mask the four hours worth of Bacardi Breezers at Scoreboard on his breath. This species is a herd animal, and his sense of confidence is inversely proportional to the size of the group he's rolling with. Find him alone, hours past curfew, and you may end up being a babysitter, taking him to the emergency room to get his stomach pumped while his parents make the trek from Kangqiao to pick him up. He's best avoided at all costs.
The Guy on Every Drug in Shanghai
You'll recognize this guy by the beads of sweet condensing on his upper lip and forehead. His pupils look like black marbles. He is constantly sniffing and looks like a cow chewing cud as he sucks and bites the inside of his cheeks. He is known for a wide range of erratic behaviors. He's been known to slouch into a sofa with eyes cast upward as much as he's been know to dance even when there is no music. Sometimes you'll see him in a corner cuddling with a water bottle he stole from a nearby table.
When this guy first started going to clubs, the words "safe sex" meant a visit to the clinic for a shot of penicillin on the morning after. He's in the middle of his fourth divorce and often shows up with a beautiful woman at least 20 years his junior and well out of his league. And while he may not have paid for her company outright, make no mistake, it is most likely a transactional relationship. He knows better than to rock up to the club in sneakers, jeans, and a t-shirt. But everything he wears is just a bit off. The lapels on his coat are always just a bit too wide, and it smells like mothballs and stale cigar smoke. He wears those pointy dress shoes that were popular 15 years ago, because the thinks that's what the kids are still wearing.
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