Michelin-chef-headed restaurant by day, dance club by night, Unico is your best bet for getting your groove on Bund-side. The music is geared towards Latin dance, but it is only on Tuesday nights that Unico goes full salsa. On nights when they bring in big-name DJs (like Questlove), expect a cover charge. If you’re a lady and want to dance wildly without paying the high drink prices, go on a ladies’ night, when you can enjoy surprisingly complex multi-flavor cosmopolitans.
In terms of underground clubs, Dada is an institution in Shanghai. The vibe is unpretentious, the drinks are cheap, and there’s always someone good spinning house, EDM, or hip hop tunes. The space is relatively small, so expect little elbow room on weekends. Still, there’s no one stopping you from getting dancy and maybe a little sloppy, too.
Another popular underground venue in Shanghai is Arkham, which is moving to a brand new location (address below) in April 2017. It is the club of local promoters S.T.D., and they have a DJ spinning every weekend. Expect a mix of local electro, trap, and larger touring acts. Drinks are cheap, starting at RMB30 (US$4). Get ready to dance your face off.
What used to be a chill bar in its old location has transformed into one of the city’s hippest dance spots in its new location on Yanping Rd. Bouncers selectively let people into this narrow venue, where the entire space is the dance floor. Music is poppy, and the bartenders know how to energize the crowd by frequently lighting the bar on fire and giving out free tequila shots.
The Mansion is not for the faint of heart. Quite literally a mansion-turned-nightclub, this buzzing jaunt attracts some of Shanghai’s most eccentric characters with its artsy vibes and throbbing techno, deep house, and hip hop tunes. The RMB100 (US$15) entrance fee gets you four drink tickets, and if you assume that means the tipples are weak, think again. The backyard of the house has a pool and a beach, where events are hosted in the warmer months. Think The Great Gatsby meets Trainspotting.
Le Baron Shanghai is a popular outpost of a club also found in Paris, New York, Tokyo, and London. That city list alone should tell you how painfully cool this place is. Semi-exclusive depending on the night, Le Baron plays a mix of old school disco, classics, and hip hop and attracts a crowd of locals and expats who are typically in-the-know about fashion and music. It’s best to pre-game this one, as drinks start at RMB80 ($11.50) and aren’t particularly good or strong.