Newspaper publishes list of best artsy hangouts in Shenzhen

Kevin McGeary , May 29, 2013 10:00am

Last year, Tea Leaf Nation published a feature on a new social phenomenon in China – the wenqing or “cultured youth.” This has also been translated as “hipster” but don’t hold that against them.

Here is how they are described:

They are twee, nostalgia-driven, and hipster-ish, with a dash of poet. Spiritual at heart, yet living in a very secular, money-driven modern China, wenqing are marked as highly individualistic, romantic, cultural connoisseurs.

So where can these people who step outside the rat race go in Shenzhen?

Last week, Shenzhen Economic Daily published a list of popular places for wenqing to hang around in the city.

OCT LOFT

OCT LOFT is an area in Nanshan District next to OCT (华侨城) subway station that is popular with designers, photographers, animators, and musicians.

It boasts a variety of concept restaurants, book shops, bars, coffee houses, and even furniture shops.

According to the Lonely Planet, some communist-era warehouses have been converted into artists’ studios, hip cafes and bars. Here are some of the better known ones.

Donkey Bar

1. Donkey Bar

A no frills, Tibetan-themed coffee shop that is particularly popular with travellers at the nearby youth hostel, Donkey Bar has been known to cause visitors to “waste half a day” as they can borrow a book, sit outside and sip on a wide variety of coffees.

Ethnic handicrafts are also sold there.

2. My Coffee

The My chain consists of My Coffee, My Noodles and My Gym. Between them, the My establishments are the most popular in OCT LOFT, and, according to the article, all are known for their inspiring interior design.

LSD

3. LSD

Named after what you think it’s named after, LSD comprises a bar, art gallery, restaurant, live music venue, and piano-jazz bar.

The article claims that the furniture and interior design of LSD blows IKEA and co. out of the water.

4. Old Heaven Book Store

According to the owner, the name of this book store comes from the goal of creating a place in which people can have a good time with old friends.

The store comprises a book shop and a coffee house, both of which sell rare products, as well as an outdoor area.

Old Heaven also boasts a resident cat that locals come to torture with affection.

It is also a live music venue. Local alternative musician Liang Ying regularly performs there with her collaborator Xiao Du.

Wutong Mountain Arts Village

Located between Shenzhen Reservoir and Yantian Harbour, at the foot of Wutong Mountain are seven villages whose formation resembles The Big Dipper, according to the paper. Around 100 artists call it home for at least part of the year.

It has its own work spaces and has been visited by a number of illustrious figures in the art community. Here are some popular locations in the village.

1. Xu Gengliang’s Pottery Shop

This unprepossessing house surrounded by trees happens to be home to some of the best pottery in southern China.

The works are in a distinct local style, according to the article.

2. Temperature Art Gallery

Both an art gallery and a workspace, many artists who work there have been tipped to go onto great things.

3. Hi-Lily

An evocatively designed restaurant, Hi Lily boasts a number of specialties such as the homemade chicken which costs 68 yuan, Shanwei meatballs, which cost 13 yuan and olive chicken soup, which costs 80 yuan.

It is also designed evocatively with countless works of art.

4. Special Needs Animation

This is an animation studio founded and run by the disabled. The studio also excels in design and handicrafts. Visitors have tended to be impressed by the courage and stoicism of the resident artists.

Special Needs Animation Company

Dafen Oil Painting Village

Dafen Oil Painting Village in Longgang District is China’s most concentrated Oil Painting Production & Wholesale Base.

Over 700 artists are based there and it was recognised by Business Week in 2008.

Lili Marleen

Designed in a 1930s European style and named after a song famously sung by Marlene Dietrich, Lili Marleen offers live music and DJs.

So, has anything been unfairly left out? Has anything been unfairly included? What do you think?

Kevin McGeary

China hand, bawdy balladeer.