Welcome, world travelers, adventurers and intrepid internet explorers! The site for The Secret Guide to Alternative Beijing is now officially live. As some of you know, we leaked a few shorts before the holidays, but now it’s time to get your faces ready for our first burst of content – not unlike the burst of a juicy soup dumpling. Did you know that we got our producer totally hooked during the shoot? It’s true, and now she’s a glob-trotting soup dumpling expert. But we digress.
As we said, this is only our first installment of content, with dozens more videos to be released over the coming weeks. Through the words of artists, punk rockers, indie kids, fashion designers, bar owners, gallerists and your mischievous hostesses, The Secret Guide to Alternative Beijing will continue to open windows into Beijing’s underground.
Look forward to interviews with the owner of Beijing’s premier gay club, a free speech activist, a private atelier visit with rising avant garde fashion star, Vega Wang, a bourbon-and-rain-soaked jaunt through Beijing’s best secret bars, vintage shopping with Shien, a visit to the famed abandoned amusement park, Wonderland, with Zoetica, and more. It’s fair to say we have many visual, aural and culinary delights in store for you.
As you peruse what we’ve published so far, please take some time to leave us feedback – tell us what you love and what you want more (or less) of. We wouldn’t be here without your support, and we want to hear from you.
Now, let’s have a look at what The Secret Guide has to offer this time around – right this way!
Getting around Beijing
Even with good command of the Chinese language, Beijing can be a difficult city to navigate. We can help.
BARS & MUSIC
Black Eyeliner at Dada Bar
Black Eyeliner is Beijing’s premier dark music monthly and Alexander Chow is the elfin master of ceremonies behind the event. He’s also the creative director of Chinese Vogue. The concept materialized in 2011, over beers with cofounder/DJ, Benjamin Bacon and mutual friend, Philana Woo, who named the event. We sat down at Black Eyeliner’s new home, DaDa Bar, to talk with Alex and fellow DJ (and history teacher), Kyle Page, about Western misconceptions of China, the rise of Beijing music, fashion, and the white savior complex.
Chen Man has been bending rules and augmenting reality at the forefront of Chinese fashion photography for over a decade. Here, she discusses changing mediums, art world acceptance, pioneering the Chinese fashion scene and about using the visual language she’s developed to change the world.
CaoChangDi Art Village – Meg Maggio
Caochangdi is a haven for artists and other creative-minded folk about an hour from Beijing’s city-center. Check out our interview with Meg Maggio, owner-director of Pekin Fine Arts and long-time Caochangdi resident.
Studio Visit with Artist Zhang Qiang
Those interested in veering even further off the beaten path will love IOWA: a compound of greenhouses just outside of the Caochangdi, converted into artist live-and-work spaces. Here, IOWA-based artist Zhang Qiang showes us around and talks about his art, as well as the challenging role of contemporary artists in China.
Birdhead – Shanghai Artist Duo
We sat down with photographers Song Tao and Ji Weiyu of Birdhead, to talk about collaboration and priorities amidst the onset of fame.
Meng Jin Hui, Head of Vice Magazine Beijing
Meng Jin Hui sat down with us at his shiny new office to contextualize Beijing’s emerging youth culture.
We caught up with Trixie Royale and Lulu Galore before one of their swing dance classes at CD Blues for a rooftop interview about what it’s like to cultivate an inherently subversive art form in China.
Shanghai: 1933 Slaughterhouse
It’s hard to believe this gorgeous Escheresque building in the historic Hongkou District was originally intended for herding cows to their doom, single-file. This was the very first video we shot, so pardon the blank stares and and funny smell.
DongHuaMen – Beijing’s Culinary Gauntlet
Donghuamen is a night market specializing in exotic, unusual snacks, catering primarily to out-of-towners. Shien and Zo braved rows of steaming pots and mystery meats to sample locusts, snake skin, a hairy spider, a scorpion, and perhaps the scariest of all snacks, stinky tofu – all for your entertainment.
We visited a secret restaurant during its soft opening in August 2012 and tasted mouthwatering tacos while owner Kin Hong let’s us in on the secret of his house salsa recipe.
Monica’s Jia (Monica’s Home)
If you miss Western culture, go to Monica’s: a cafe modeled after an apartment from the famous American sitcom, Friends.
Xia Fa Ji Restaurant
Weak from hunger and jet lag, Xia Fa Ji Restaurant was our salvation at the end of a 14 hour flight to the other side of the world.
Cha’s Restaurant – Cantonese Diner
Cha’s Restaurant is renowned for faithfully recreating an authentic Hong Kong “cha canting” dining experience in the style of the 1950s.