Like pubs in Britain and cafés in France, Chinese teahouses have traditionally been meeting places for local residents. In those days, teahouses were the centre of social activity and populated with the guns and chatter of every walk of life where noblemen, imperial officials, touts and peddlers chose their tea carefully and caught up on the day. Today an evening spent at a teahouse theater will include food, drink and a sampling from the Chinese stage – often Peking opera, acrobatics, crosswalk, animal imitations, and magic tricks.
One place that you can not omit when considering the nightlife options for the old Beijing natives is Tian Qiao Area (Heaven Bride). In fact it is not a bridge but a location popular for gathering to eat, drink and to enjoy the entertainments and amusements on offer there. Tian Qiao has been a favorite venue for ordinary folk since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). This area was also the cradle of Chinese folk culture and art where many original folk performances such as acrobatics and music were devised. The area has changed somewhat over the centuries but the quality of the entertainment here continues to be of a high standard.
Lao She Tea House
As a good place to explore Chinese folk culture, the Lao She Tea House can provide you the chance to experience the famous Chinese tea culture and find a quiet place to relax and maybe do some reading. There is also located the Liyuan Theater (inside Jianguo Hotel, Qianmen, at No. 175 in Yongan Lu) with nightly performances at 19:30 pm of genuine Beijing Opera and other folk performances. One need not be concerned about language difficulties with Chinese opera and drama as both make considerable use of mime. The opera often has subtitle boards displaying a translation. As a result they are quite easy to understand.
Add: Qian Men West Avenue, Xuanwu District, Beijing
Tel: +86 10 6301 7454
Show Time: 7:50pm – 9:20 pm
Purple Vine Tea House
Established in the summer of 1998 by an antique dealer and her sister, the Purple Vine Tea House seeks to imitate the Green Tea House, incorporating more expensive decorations, but falling flat in terms of final effect. Small reproductions antique tables are set apart by tall, reproductions of antique Chinese screens. The owner who is an antique wheeler and dealer is more than happy to discuss the history of the Chinese tea ceremony as well as the differences in the 12 different types of teas she offers, while pushing her antiques on the side.
Add: No. 2 Nnan Chang Jie, Xi Cheng District, Beijing
Tel: +86 10 6606 6614
Show Time: 9am – 2am