If you happen to ever find yourself in Humen Town for the night and are looking for a Western bar, save yourself the effort. Sadly, there is only one. The bar is actually on the second floor of the Grand Noble Hotel, which is renowned for catering to short-term visiting foreigners and, of course, any bar like that can be hit or miss, depending what crowd is in.
Kansas City is your stereo-typical American sports bar complete with juke box, stag heads and other random rustic paraphanalia. There is a separate games room with darts, pool and foosball being overseen by an oddly placed butler statue in the corner. Drinks are standard top-end prices, with RMB 15,000 bottles of Cognac available for the bigger spenders. Initially, it all felt a bit chalk and cheese for me. The affluent clientele stood out like a sore thumb, portraying their decadence for anyone bothered. However, there were also regular couples and foreign guests just looking to unwind.
Things started slowly, with the resident band seemingly disheartened from their gruelling six-day schedule. Despite the slightly gaudy matching attire of the singers, the night eventually picked up and no sooner had the token, drunken laoban departed, then the atmosphere immediately felt more relaxed. Classics from past decades rolled out—Marley, Oasis, Tina Turner. Then the Filipina duet called for prospective vocalists to join them. A few beers in, with a bit of Dutch courage, I soon found myself belting out some U2 with my new friends.
According to a foreign regular I spoke with, the place used to have a better vibe when there was a resident American crooner a couple of years back, but personally, I am a firm believer that a night is what you make it. If you are looking for a slightly more subdued affair, then maybe try your luck in some of the local Chinese bars. On the other hand, if your mind is open to a possible impromptu sing-a-long in a Western setting, as opposed to the familiar KTV aura, then Kansas can definitely work.
Find the bar here.