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July 28, 2011

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Once-vibrant bar scene fading

THE city's once most popular venue for night life, Hengshan Road where dozens of bars are grouped together, has seen its business decreasing in recent years, due to the emergence of more upscale competition in other areas.

The city has taken notice and seeks some big changes, with the aim of turning the area into a neighborhood of shops, restaurants and entertainment sites appealing to more affluent customers.

The businesses along Hengshan Road began to diminish after the appearance of Xintiandi and Muse which have tended to split the customers, especially those seeking more fashionable venues.

Xuhui District government officials said detailed business performance of the bars was not available.

Gu Yiqiao, 27, a public relations specialist and regular at various bars, told Shanghai Daily that she usually does not go to Hengshan Road and that she heard about the business decline there.

"The bars there are not that fashionable and elegant," said Gu, who said she goes out of her way to avoid the road when driving in the area.

Some foreigners behave badly along the road after getting drunk and it's not safe, according to Gu.

Lily Xue, a local resident, agreed with Gu about the bars' poor business. But she thought the main reason is that people like change.

"Shanghai is a city full of changes. Locals just like to change. They do not always go to the same place," Xue said.

She also said some venues on the road near Dongping Road, which crosses Hengshan Road, are still busy. Many of them serve as restaurants during the day and turn into pubs as it gets dark.

Because of the decline in business, the city government is looking at introducing high-end boutiques, restaurants and entertainment venues to Hengshan Road by 2015, said Yang Haiye, an official with the government.

But a waiter at the Beni bar on the road surnamed Yang told Shanghai Daily yesterday that he has had some customers for as long as 10 years, and the bar has not heard of any transition plan.

An Indian immigrant named Kumarn said he still likes to go to the bars on Hengshan Road because the drinks are affordable and he likes the international flavor of the area, citing the mix of British, Irish, Turkish and other nationalities in addition to the Chinese.

Kumarn acknowledged that some of the bars are "dirty" but said he opposes any changes to the area.

"I do not like the transition idea at all. Cheap things will be gone," he said.

How and when the area's transition will happen is under study, and whether the bars will be shut down is unknown, said Yang, the government official.


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