If you are traveling to China, living in China, have friends or family who just moved to China, or are going to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, you will need to brush up on your Chinese Etiquette. Here you can find the most comprehensive guide by an expatriate who has lived in China for over two years. Here you can learn what nightlife entails in China: bars in China, Chinese karaoke and more.
Bar Scene / Nightlife
- The bar scene in China is lively and loud. If you are doing business, expect that only men will go out to drink.
- Younger generations play drinking games like “liar’s dice” or guessing games that expedite the drinking process. It is all about having a good time.
- Chinese bars have shows, comedians, short plays, lots of live singing, and the essential loud distorted Chinese PA system. The point is, if you are used to going to Bob’s Tavern where it’s all low-key, get ready for something different.
- When you want to call a waiter over, use the terms “fu wu yuan” (pron. “foo-wu-yen”) or for a female “xiao gunia” (pron. “shaw goo-nya”). Never use the term “xiao jie” (“xiao” starts with “sh” and rhythms with “wow”, then “jee-yah”, so “xiao jee-yah”), as it is condescending and dated. You would be surprised at how many books still teach that “xiao jie” is appropriate.
- Karaoke is very popular way to spend social time. There are karaoke houses, or more commonly known as “KTVs” all over China, some of which rival the looks and feel of an AMC movie theater in the States.
- You will get a private, insulated room that has (distorting) speakers, a television, a large central table, and couches lining the walls. There will be two microphones and a serious, heavy-duty delay (I guess you could call it reverb) on the vocal tracks.
- The Chinese are not shy about singing and will insist that you sing. If you do not want to sing, you can say, “Wo bu hui chang ge” (I cannot sing).
- If you do go to Karaoke, the volume level will most likely be too loud, but do not ask to turn the music down. Come prepared! Use earplugs and explain that you have hearing problems if they ask. You can say, “Wo de yisheng shou wo de er duo bu hao, sou yi wo xu yao yong zhei ge dong xi” while you point to your ears (My doctor said my ears are no good, that’s why I have to use these).
- Don’t feel oblidged to patiently listen to someone who is singing. It is not considered rude to multitask in the karaoke room. Someone can be singing while four other people are slamming down dice on the table, playing drinking games.
- Be aware that you are going to be in a small room with little or no ventalation, and that most of the Chinese people in the room will be smoking.
- One of the coolest things about karaoke rooms is the little button on the wall that alerts an attendant. Need more beer? They arrive within seconds.
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