This is the last in my nightlife series, including my original
I’ve left my on-site job in nightlife and I am all about that Netflix-in-bed life, so let’s call this a bit of a recap now what I’ve learned. Not to say that it’s goodbye forever – I’ve found that I
have become really addicted to Patron really enjoy covering nightlife and drinks scenes across East Asia, so this is hardly the end. I’ve just grown a bit tired really fucking tired of having to stay out and turned on until 6am every weekend night. There are also many other reasons, which I’m sure will show up in a thinly-veiled blog post in the near future. (Heyyyyy – it’s kind of already happened.)
A lot of customers that frequent the place I worked are constant travellers and bon vivants – people who have not only been regulars in various nightlife scenes all across Asia, but in the States, Canda, Europe. [Keep in mind though, that these people are part of the super-club, VIP bottle-service, EDM DJ-oriented that has come to characterise and standardise nightlife across the globe. Taipei does indeed have its own flourishing underground scene, but that is a totally separate subject]. My point being that these people have been around – like pretty much every place Pitbull shouts out in International Love and more – and yet they always speak of Taipei with a special fondness. Their favorite place to go party, hands down.
Personally, I agree – Taipei nightlife is fun. I don’t think it’s as affected (or dare I say – dark? Insert downcast, enigmatic stare broody eyes) as Shanghai or Hong Kong. By this, I mean that in general, people have less of an agenda in going out – it’s not to assuage unbelievable stress, or for the sheer pleasure of screwing others over, or networking. Half the people going out are either unemployed and/or living off family money anyway – and just out for good, clean fu
ncked-up times. It’s about going out and getting as drunk as you possibly can, to very mediocre music, and seeing the same exact people that you did last week. It’s very comfortable and can be endlessly entertaining – if you happen to be this kind of super-club, bottle-service loving basic that I detailed above. And well, ABC.(Remember that I prefaced this post with “UNPOPULAR OPINION”)
Still with me? Personally, I feel that missed the prime years of Taipei nightlife; when PRIMO was in full-swing from 2008 onwards, and Marquee discharged its crowds across the street to Spark 101; when the parties drew a constantly rotating of visiting bankers, businessmen [and their money] every weekend – and hotel suites at the (then) newly opened W Hotel, of course. It’s an openly acknowledged fact that Taipei nightlife isn’t what it used to be: outlets are unstable; frequently opening and closing, crowds are fickle; the W isn’t cool anymore (was it ever, though?) and there just isn’t as much money coming into the city in comparison to 3 or 4 years ago. But the three most appealing factors have endured: going out in Taipei is still pretty cheap, Taiwanese girls are [generally considered] the prettiest in Asia [fuck I’m using so many brackets], and everyone is pretty nice and genuinely friendly.
Taipei nightlife – no different, I’m sure, than many other cities – runs on set track where people go to a certain venue on very specific days and hours. There is no variety. A typical night out in Taipei runs as such – it’s so predictable, it’s like going to a restaurant with a few set menu options for appetiser, main course and dessert. Nothing except BIG BANG coming ever really ever changes the flow of Taipei nightlife, so I’m sure this guide will still be relevant in months – dare I say, years? – to come.
Essentially, there are 3-4 pre-drink spots, 2-3 “prime-time” clubbing spots, and then a single after-hours spot [KTV and late night eats notwithstanding] – which actually just closed, so never mind. And if you miss the set hours, you can walk into a venue and see all the way to the bathrooms. On a weekend night; there’ll be maybe ten people there, usually fools who got drunk way too early and haven’t followed everyone else onto the next destination. Here’s the set menu:
APPETIZER 9/10PM – 1AM: (Pick 1 OF 4, or a couple, or all? GO NUTS) –
• MARQUEE [and ALCHEMY] • HALO
• BARCODE [and THE DEN].
Seriously, all these places are essentially the same and virtually interchangeable. Although (there’s always an although) I will say that I like MQ the best, because it plays hip-hop and you can also go upstairs to Alchemy when you’re tired of the craziness downstairs. And HALO is the worst. But basically, the crowd is exactly the same – just divided amongst these four venues every weekend – and you’ll more often than not just go to all these different places in one night.
I hate both these places! They’re terrible and make me question humanity. Elektro I like marginally better because at least the music isn’t at bad as OMNI, but it’s in the ATT4FUN building. For some reason, people decided that all of Taipei nightlife should take place in a building with only two elevators. Think about that. Those elevators have seen a lot.
I guess there is also MYST (also in the ATT4FUN building) but trust me when I say – nothing good comes into – or out of – MYST. Avoid.
DESSERT 3AM – late: very, very late: (Try to only pick 1 or 2, YA LUSH. GO HOME)
• CHESS [housed in the former PRIMO space] Now closed.
• CASHBOX KTV near FUXING SOGO
• LATE NIGHT EATS (read my guide, shameless plug)
These have been taxi-tested, but can’t really vouch for anything else.
Relaxed night: I don’t even venture into the Xinyi area on chill nights; too much temptation. Engage in long, rambling debates over whisky and coffees at 路上撿到一隻貓 (one of the trio of late-night cafes on Wenzhou St.) for hours and hours, until I can’t find anything else to argue about anymore. (“So, which Kardashian do you most identify with…? Wait, where are you going?”) Also, lately I’ve been trying to blend in with Taipei’s hip-to-death set over a seriously huge glass of white wine (ew, I know, yes, white wine at a dive bar – but I stress that this is a personal itinerary) at The Fucking Place. Then, when the drank is drunk, I head over to Shida Night Market / 師大夜市 for fried mushrooms from this one street stall stand that’s open really late. Just wander over – you’ll know which one it is.
Sort of Relaxed night: Maybe a beer at Tasting Room. But just one. ONE BEER, OKAY? But just one – because beer always gets me white-girl wasted. (Insert elegant shrug). Then cocktails at Ounce; before it gets too crowded. If I don’t get too wasted at Ounce (I would say it’s like half-half chance at this point in my tolerance journey), move on to Wootp for a few more concoctions, and the duck-fat fries, because slow drinking always makes me ravenous. Also, I loe french fries.
DECIDEDLY NOT RELAXED NIGHT: Go all out at a local re-chao 熱炒. My favorite one is near Da’an Park but I won’t reveal the name. Just because I’m a blogger doesn’t mean I have to tell you everything. I can’t hang with the gaoling 高粱, but that being said, I can rip through that watery-ass Taiwan Beer 台灣啤酒 like a champion. Then I carry on drinking at Marquee with my tried-and-true white wine and tequila combination (which you should stop judging). Then sometimes I go to Elektro because I am weak-willed. Once I went to OMNI, where I sat at the table of the dude in 那些年，我們一起追的女孩. I also once went to karaoke – I was so miserable and ate onion rings the whole time. Real candid, though: mostly, I used to work at a certain venue that rhymes with STRESS TAIPEI so I didn’t really have time to go anywhere else after 1 AM. And now that I no longer work at STRESS and in fact, STRESS is closing, I’m all good with that cat lady life at home.
But YOU – YOU should go out and party it up in Taipei. You only live once. Be young, be wild, be free. Make me proud.
Feature photo c/o mjflair