The last time I barhopped was when I was attending college on the east coast, circa 1979 (Yikes!) Not coincidentally, it was also the last time I smoked cigarettes. I quit when I move to San Francisco in 1980. The last time I recall actually smoking a coffin-nail was 2001.
Last Saturday night, after work, I joined some colleagues at a local dive-bar. We had just finished having our summer kick-off party, where the theme was beach-Caribbean. Hence, the Tommy Bahama shirt you see me wearing. I brought all of my loud, Hawaiian-print shirts with me because, you know, Beijing.
The thing about Beijing bars is, you never know if you’re drinking real alcohol beverages (and that in fact, includes bottled-beer!) mere facsimiles or worst of all: drinks made with isopropyl alcohol. It seems like everyone has a story. In the case of the bar with the fireworks (see below), I would opine that we were drinking heavily diluted drinks. Otherwise, the amount of shots alone should have had me crawling out the door. Take a look at that set-up. It consists of 36 test-tubes of who knows what and then the server ignites the light show. It was at that point I brought up the many stories I’ve heard of nightclubs burning to the ground under similar situations. Price for the light-show and test-tubes was about $30. At least you don’t tip! We also had a pitcher of some night-glow green concoction.
After that club we didn’t stagger out to another drinking establishment which was a hookah bar which are quite popular, evidently. It is directly across the street from where I work and is on the second floor with a great view of the entire area. It will certainly be a place I bring visitors. It’s nice and dare I say it (“Dare, dare.”) almost exudes some class. So when the girls I was with (I use the term “girls” advisedly as they are my daughter’s age), lit up, at the table (at the previous bar, they went outside) I elected to join in. Why not? It just seemed right. I am in no danger of becoming a smoker again and in any case, smoking in Beijing is merely redundant. Like most bay area denizens, I am (was, anyway) a bit of a “smoking-nazi.” However, there’s absolutely no virtue in taking that position in a place like China. I’m just happy that smokers are no longer smoking on the subway. A problem up until recently, from what I’ve been told. Besides, what’s that old saying? Ah yes: “When in Beijing…” Or something like that.
Somewhere I have a photo of you and I with cigarettes in our hand at an LA party circa 1975 or so…If I find it I will email it. Since smoking is redundant in Beijing, I won’t worry about you. xo