A Bar Scene Like No Other

As human beings, most of us are naturally codependent and sociable, reassured by our companions. Dongguan presents the perfect place to gain independence and confidence, while still being able to socialize.

Yes, the nightlife scene in Ibiza is fantastic. I have some unforgettable memories from renowned club Pacha Ibiza, seeing Ed Sheeran perform at the Ibiza Rocks Hotel and the bars that promise one hell of a night, and always deliver. But you can’t do this alone. When was the last time you walked into a bar alone, without any intention of meeting someone there? Probably never? More specifically, when was the last time you did this comfortably? That’s just it. As an expat in Dongguan, you can walk into one of the popular bars on your own and simply know that someone you know will walk in at some point, or that you’ll end up chatting to a stranger anyhow. It’s very reassuring. What a wonderful feeling to know that you don’t need a companion to go out and enjoy yourself?

I will admit, I have done this several times in the past here in Dongguan when I’ve fancied an after-work beverage but nobody has been out to play. I’ve headed to a few of the more popular bars, such as more recently Grateful Q, Silent Alco and Murray’s, knowing that I could have a chat with the friendly bar staff, or believing that it will be easy to make conversation with someone at some point. And if you’re anything like me, and you’re pretty damn independent anyway, you won’t mind spending some time with your awesome self regardless. As a newbie over two years ago, I didn’t know many people yet I wanted to get to know the community better, so I would just put myself out there and hope for the best. It can be tough as a newbie to enter these spots and attend events when there are solid friendships and big groups already formed, however, Dongguan’s expat community is very open and it’s pretty easy to find your place here.

Depending on where you live, where you work, and where you feel most relaxed, there are plenty of bars and restaurants around our city to socialize in and make new friends, or to casually hang out in while grabbing a bite to eat or a drink. Ziggy’s in Chang’an, Liberty, One for the Road and Hollywood Baby Too in Dongcheng, Treehouse in Batou, Irene’s Bar and Ray’s in Houjie, Winners in Hengli; it all just depends on what suits you best. The key thing to remember is that Dongguan is a melting pot and there is space for everyone, so it’s quite easy to just slot yourself in and casually get to know both Chinese and expats from all over, to improve your experience in our beloved city.

This behavior is quite different to that in Western countries as far as I know, where people rarely go out to a bar or to an event solo, except for perhaps a few old men who hang around in their favorite bars, knowing their drinking buddies will turn up not long after. Personally, before coming to Dongguan, I had never entered a bar alone back home in the U.K., with no intention of meeting anyone, or under the impression that I would chat to the staff or end up meeting some new people. It’s just a straight up “no-no.” I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so. However, funnily enough, after being in Dongguan for so long, when visiting home, I am more inclined to do so. The last time I was home, I actually decided to head to a couple of bars during a time when my friends were working or unavailable, to make a point to myself. To say it’s just a trivial thing, it’s interesting, as you talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to, you take more of your surroundings in, and you gain a sense of confidence and self-assurance that you wouldn’t necessarily have, when in the comfort of your friendship groups. That’s just it, Dongguan teaches you a more independent and open way of living.

What a wonderful feeling to know that you don’t need a companion to go out and enjoy yourself?

There have been many occasions whereby friends and expats have come over from Shenzhen, Guangzhou or beyond, and commented on how tight-knit the Dongguan community is, and how there is much less of a clique-vibe about the place. It’s true, and we should remember that and make the most of it. After all, aren’t we lucky to have endless opportunities to attend all kinds of events, visit various venues, and meet a ton of dynamic people from all around the globe?

Category Op-Ed