Follow the Panda
After meeting team Panda at our Panda Guides offices in the Central Business District (CBD) - I ventured out on a mission of journalistic research. Follow the Panda they say, but I didn't see which way he went. I did know however, the truth was out there, somewhere, and I knew the only way to find it would be to get deep and dirty blending in with the locals.
First stop - after a cunning tip-off - was Great Leap Brewing, fortunately, located within crawling distance of my hostel. Placing myself squarely at the bar I was sure to strike gold, and sure enough - as if by some twisted turn of fate - the first person I met on this trip was the marketing director of this legendary establishment (Mr Kevin), sitting just to my left.
To my right was Brandon (MD of his own events management company) - if anyone was born to network with industry types, it was I. After sampling one of their 18 homebrewed beers and a cheeky chicken sandwich, I headed out into the night like the disco fiend I am.
Testing my built in GPS navigation system I thought I'd see if I could find my way to the Panda office in the dark. Weaving between gold-plated Lamborghinis, BMW Z4s and god knows what else I eventually rocked up by work - conveniently situated opposite TGI Fridays. Despite the fact it was Tuesday, I went in. After a quick shandy, I was almost back at the ranch when a day-glo entrance to a classy-looking nightspot called Club Elements screamed out to my inner-teenager: "All inclusive bar 100 RMB - foreigners only". Fortunately for me (and for them), I fell head first into this category.
Walking down the stairs felt like stepping on the strings of a giant harp. An incredibly beautiful instrument, ruined when tipsy foreigners tread all over it. After getting pointed towards an obviously cheap private bar table in a venue clearly built for the city's richest - I downed a few screwdrivers to avoid any further embarassment.
The cheapest tables in this place set you back nearly 2,000 Chinese notes... for broke-ass journalists such as myself, this is as plausible as Obama and Putin snogging publicly. That said, if they do I will happily celebrate by buying a table.
By the time the DJ does come on, it's clear he's no pro - sloppy mixes are only disguised by his pretty damn good track-selection. And even then, barely so. You'd like to think if someone invests millions in a venue, they could at least invest a few pennies in the DJ. Not here though. They must have almost 400 bottles of oober-expensive champagne on display; reitterating the saying 'image is everything' - musical knowledge, however, counts for little.
Elementary my dear Watson? Hell no, this is Elements Club in Beijing - and they have a certain key element missing.
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