The plan was clear: I was going to a thrash metal concert on Friday. I was unreasonably excited, even though I don’t even like thrash metal very much. The idea of seeing a Chinese metal band, to prove that Chinese metal even exists, was thrilling to say the least. After listening to a sample of the band online, I decided that I shouldn’t subject any of my friends to the concert. I was going alone for their own good.
Then I got a phone call from my friend, who suddenly didn’t have to tutor on Friday night. So we decided to meet in town and head to the concert together.
These things are never as simple as they seem. I told her to meet at the train station, but she heard west station. That, combined with the maze that is Tianjin Rail Station, made for massive confusion and heartache. After we finally found each other, we had to wander around downtown for a while in search of Club 13, asking for directions every five feet.
But then, we found it! Nestled in the new Italian town area, the club was on the second story overlooking Biergartens and a church popular for rich-people weddings. We could hear the music from the road–“Enter Sandman” by Metallica, haha! But we had already missed an hour of the show, and the people at the door wouldn’t budge on the ticket price. So we decided that metal could wait (there’s a concert November 3rd by a band I actually like), and we would check out somewhere else to get our Friday night on.
That’s how we ended up at Helen’s. It’s close to Tianjin University and Nankai University, the hub of all that is hip and cool in Tianjin. It was a small bar, playing thumping dance music while younguns drank reasonably-priced drinks and ate pretty legit western food (I had a Black Russian and cheeseburger with fries for 42RMB, about $7 total.)
In our quest for an inside table, we ended up talking to a hilarious gay man from Florida and his posse of university friends hailing from various parts of Europe. Their next stop was Xitang, a club I had been to once before and liked well enough, so my friend and I decided to tag along.
Ensue dancing, way too many plays of Gangnam Style, and running into a couple of students from my school (I didn’t even recognize them in their club get-up. That, and I was firmly convinced that all of my students sulked in their dormitories every Friday night.) I successfully cock-blocked a rather unattractive man-slut from dancing with my students, and I made friends with a nice journalism major from Xinjiang. All in all, a successful evening.
Until I returned to my dorm and had to wake up the other foreign teachers to let me in the building at 5:30 in the morning. But hey, I think I can bribe them into not hating me forever with tasteful gifts. Nothing says “thanks for not leaving me standing in front of the building all morning” like Tsingtao and questionable Chinese baked goods.