The Hidden Tree on the eve of its demise

Back in 2005, the demise of the Hidden Tree marked the end of South Bar Street in Sanlitun. Most of the other bars and restaurants had either found a new home in North Sanlitun, or had just quietly faded away. The previous summer, South Bar Street was a lively gathering place for young people looking for cheap drinks, people who enjoy listening to loud music played through crappy speakers, a host of nefarious characters offering you just about anything under the sun, and people who enjoyed soaking it all up. However seedy and unkempt the environment may have been, it was a genuine scene… at least for the few years it lasted.

South Bar Street on its last legs

There is little room in Beijing for nostalgia. Just when you feel you’ve found a comfortable place to hang out, you find out it’s getting chaied - a coined expression combining the Chinese character for destruction ? chai with English conjugation. Unless, of course, your favorite hangout is safely snuggled in a brand new glass tower. The Hidden Tree re-emerged as The Tree in North Sanlitun, finding a home close by the uberchic 3.3 shopping center, as did a few of the bars like Pure Girl, still offering 10 kuai cocktails to the same crowd looking to get liquored up before heading across the street to dance at Bar Blu, with its modern interior, decent sound system and 50 kuai cocktails.

So, two years later, what has become of South Bar Street? Absolutely nothing. The whole area was razed, and has since become a big vacant lot.

South Bar Street now

When you are dealing with the re-engineering of a city the size of Beijing, you have to think on a massive scale. And two years is not that long when attempting to untangle the mess of who actually has the right to build, versus those who are offering a better deal now. There is no shortage of half-completed building projects in a state of limbo throughout the capital, so what’s two years in the grand scheme of things?

Strolling down the road that used to draw such crowds, but is now strewn with garbage, I passed into an older developed area and was suddenly struck by the sight of the Black Sun Bar, which used to mark the end of the South Bar Street. I had no idea it was even still around, and was momentarily caught off guard as the memories came rushing back.

In the end, the demise of South Street will not go down as a major loss. The scene moves on.

[tags] Sanlitun, South Bar Street, Beijing, Bar, development [/tags] Reddit Slashdot Digg Facebook Technorati Google StumbleUpon Furl Yahoo Ask Mister Wong China Newsvine Simpy Spurl Wink Rawsugar Squidoo Fark