Nestled a few metres inside a lilong
just off Huashan Lu, Downtown is found in the space that used to house notorious after hours spot Amber. Although Amber has moved across the road into the old KTV location and rebranded as Amber+, the years of lost memories, incriminating photos and borderline brain damage are hard to shake for many of Shanghai’s party-hardy residents.
First things first though –Downtown (despite being run by the people behind now closed Yongfu Lu after hours spot Shiva) stays open only until 5am, so don’t turn up at 6am in your Gucci shades looking like the freshest undead in town expecting to keep the party raging until lunchtime (although latest updates from the venue say they are open until 8am sometimes, so check before you head out). No, go home, wrap up with a book and stop scaring all the yey
e’s trying to enjoy their morning constitutional.
The place has been totally redone inside to give the bar its own identity. Inside is a pleasant-enough mixture of grey walls and purple neon lighting. Setting it apart from the industrial-aping crowd though is a mural of a dark metropolis which adorns two of the walls. It’s pure Gibsonian cyberpunk – a perfect vision of what people in the late ’80s thought the future would look like. Not the coolest idea in the world, but it definitely has its charm. When we were there the music only contributed to this atmosphere: it was the kind of Euro-house that was the soundtrack to ’90s sci-fi movie warehouse party wet dreams, playing through a sound system that simply wasn’t. Overall the music policy takes in deep house, tech house and techno too.
Downtown has been offering a buy-one-get-one-free drinks deal until 1am recently. It’s 40RMB for Corona and Heineken, 30RMB for Tsingdao and 50RMB for spirits with mixers. The drinks are nothing to write home about, but how many bars in this city that are open until 5am have great drinks? It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but those into their house music or vaguely cyberpunk themes might find something they enjoy at this newly opened bar. And then, when you’ve had enough of Downtown’s nightlife delights, it’s a short stumble across the road to Amber+ where you can keep partying until the yeye’s have their mid-morning nap.
By Nathan Jubb