A Guide to Beijing's Red-Hot Nightlife - TheStreet

It wasn't long ago that the capital of China frowned upon Western-style nightlife, instead encouraging its diligent labor masses to seek the comfort of pillows and shut eye.

Things have certainly changed.

Although Beijing nightlife doesn't have the debauchery of Tokyo, panache of Hong Kong or global "wow" of Shanghai, it offers a mix-and-match of all the above in a diverse scene that has a little something for everybody.

A surge of Olympic investment has brought a plethora of new nightlife options for 2008, with new club openings hitting the city almost on a weekly basis. Here are the best of the bunch currently dominating the Beijing nightlife circuit.

Klubb Rouge

In the penthouse of Beijing's China View Building, a former (designer) Starck protégée creates a bourgeoisie bohemia of communist decadence that is a balancing act between supper club and disco.

Raw concrete floors create an edgy ambiance accentuated by black walls, Mao-red seating areas in cubist shapes and simple grey-cushioned chairs above metal frames.

Walls feature provocative 3-D artworks of scantily clad women that look like pixilated cutouts from Madonna's "Rain" video. The centerpiece of Rouge is an elaborate light installation of some-1,000 red hand-blown Murano-glass pendants and 8,000 LED lights located above a 40-foot bar.

Chinadoll

In the middle of Sanlitun, Chinese actress and socialite Ai Wan creates a hip-hop dance and lounge sanctuary known as Chinadoll. It's been one of the hottest nightclubs in town since opening in June as a decadent pink-and-metal dance den popular with Beijing badboy actors and musicians.

The dance floor is surrounded by backlit walls in various geometric shapes ignited by bold colors, and plasma screen playing music videos and sexy clips of cutesy pinup models.

A microcosm of new Chinese society is on hand for nightly dance events that lure Versace-clad workers, Louis Vuitton-flaunting models and men in Raf Simons skinny suits on a regular basis.

Bed Bar

Not the Bed of 2001 you grew to love in New York or Miami Beach, this Beijing tapas lounge is arranged within a traditional siheyuan (quadrangle), home to one of the city's most popular drinking bars. The lounge is arranged within interconnecting rooms, once a private residence, containing a series of private lounges, small bar and dance floor.

Each lounge is equipped with opium beds and kang-style loungers fluffed with pillows and bolsters, each available for VIP rental and even small private parties.

At the center of the club is an open courtyard arranged in chunky redwood furnishing with lively drinking crowd on hand for powerful mojitos and collection of bite-size tapas created by the in-house kitchen.

I-Ultra Lounge

In front of a newly constructed loft-style entertainment complex, Block 8 sees Beijing singles arrive in freshly pressed shirts and slinky black dresses to a guarded elevator shaft clinging to the exterior. A three-story entertainment destination, Block 8, is home to two Western-style restaurants and third-floor I-Ultra Lounge.

The nightclub is a decadent space of marble-encrusted bars with crystal pendant lighting; intricate in-laid walls and stylish banquettes are tossed together with oversize pillows and cubist stools. A separate VIP annex features multi-level rooms with dance floor views and private bars pouring Moët by the magnum.

Richy by Babyface

It's one of the most famous club names in China with outposts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Opened in 2005 and shuttered in late-2007, Babyface overhauled its top-performing franchise near the Workers Stadium and debuted the all-new Richy in early 2008.

Amongst the car chaos and flashy lights of the Gongti West Gate, Richy attracts a professional mix of stylish Beijing singles in bolero hats and skinny jeans mouthing the words of their favorite Rihanna hits.

The space walks away from traditional Chinese disco décor with mirrored walls, plush VIP rooms with reflective ceilings, and newly configured dance floor open till 5 a.m.

Visiting During the Olympics?

For those visiting during the Games, recent rumors warned of last-minute closings around the Worker's Stadium due to security concerns and congestion management.

Things can change on a whim, but as of print, no curfews or closures have been reported. Visitors should inquire with their nearest concierges as to what's open and how best to get back and forth from the various establishments.

Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.