MANUELA ZONINSEIN scopes out three top clubs around town, where you can get a taste of the city’s thriving underground scene

■ D-22

University neighborhoods tend to provide a steady supply of rock fans, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the area around Tsinghua University is home to some of the city’s best clubs. Known for serving up the choicest sounds in town, this three-year-old, 200-capacity spot fills up quickly (dancing takes a bit of maneuvering). Still, D-22 is your best bet in catching Beijing’s top acts, like Carsick Cars, who toured Europe with Sonic Youth. And it gives back, too: musicians get a big cut of the door fees. “The goal is to be an incubator of talent,” explains manager Nevin Domer. 242 Chengfu Lu, Haidian District; 86-10/6265-3177; d-22.cn; entrance after 9 p.m. RMB40.

■ Mao Livehouse

At any time of the day, you’ll see musicians resplendent with Mohawks duck into Mao, a converted cinema that’s become the Beijing indie music scene’s unofficial hangout. Watch out for local heavyweights, like Queen Sea Big Shark, who opened for the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s in Beijing, and brace yourself for some serious jostling for space. And the name? The chairman, says owner Li Chi, “was the biggest rock ‘n’ roller of all.” 111 Gulou Dongdajie; 86-10/6402-5080;maolive.com; entrance RMB40.


■ Dos Kolegas

Before D-22, there was “2K,” as the owners call it: an important (if a bit far-flung) stop on the city’s rock circuit. Located in a drive-in movie theater, this cheerful dive hosts raucous summer parties and barbecues on the ample outdoor lawn; inside, underground bands and gold standards, like Hedgehog, get down to the business of rocking out. Weekends see the venue packed, especially on Saturdays when infectiously good electronica is played, though Tuesday reggae nights are a good way to groove mid-week. 21 Liangmaqiao Lu, Sanyuanqiao; 86/135-5227-6845; 2kolegas.com; entrance after 9 p.m. RMB40.

First published in the March 2010 issue of Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia.

Here’s a PDF of the original article, with photo by Matthew Niederhauser: 03insider_afterdarkmlv2

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