TAKE A STROLL ON A SUNDAY AT 6AM DOWN VINTAGE-STORE-ADORNED GULOU DONG DAJIE, THE ROAD RUNNING DOWN THE CULTURAL CENTRE OF THE GULOU AREA, AND YOU’RE LIKELY TO SEE PLENTY OF HUNGRY TEMPLE BAR REGULARS ON BREAKFAST MISSIONS.
Perhaps Beijing’s ultimate all-night rock-music party spot, Temple has earned a hardcore following of weekend warriors. Ask the Temple Bar faithful to flash their ankles and they’ll gleefully show you shakily drawn tattoos of the venue’s Chinese-temple-style silhouette logo. Found upstairs from a music studio and Dada, Beijing’s best underground dance club, Temple is an even louder affair than both. Gigs, which are almost always free to enter, don’t begin before 10.30pm and continue into the early hours. You might catch swish Chengdu four-piece The Hormones on tour, or raucous Shanghai-based punks Dirty Fingers passing through.
One of Temple Bar’s most popular nights in recent years has proved to be one named Rock Against Jams. The night’s anti-noodling concept is simple: musicians turn up with instruments, form bands on the spot and are given a bit of rehearsal time before performing new songs on stage. No 15-minute jazz odysseys, no confessionary acoustic guitar songs. Just fresh off the slab, “this night only” rock. Sporadic police appearances at Temple Bar, seemingly instigated by nothing more sinister than the prospect of a few hundred rock fans having a laugh together, have failed to dampen Temple Bar’s fervently fun atmosphere. When the cops show up, bands often just take a breather, then pick up the guitars again once the law has left.
Temple Bar remains the only venue in Beijing in which you can hear The Rolling Stones, Joy Division and Oasis being blasted from the DJ’s speakers at 4am, and still have 100 revellers dancing alongside you. It’s a temple worthy of your weekend worship. Just don’t be too surprised if you wake up after a night out there with a permanent reminder of the gig inked on your ankle.