Maggie’s, the popular drinking haunt of many expatriates and foreign visitors to Beijing, is set to open “once the Olympics are over” according to a source close to the establishment’s senior management today.
The bar, which has been a stalwart of the Beijing club scene for close to 15 years, has long been a combination of both popular and notorious. Located nowadays in a minor royal courtyard property close to the main Embassy area of Beijing, on the edge of Ritan Park, Maggie’s Chinese owners – ex-PSB officers – found that a combination of loud 70’s rock music and voluptuous girls from Mongolia were a winning combination amongst the city’s expatriates. The Mongolian girls themselves fulfill a different role from their Chinese waitress counterparts in the bar – the local girls being employed as waitresses designed to extract money via encouraging purchases of drinks. Prostitution is of course illegal in China. Mongolian women however, due to the predominantly dairy diet of the countries inhabitants, tend to be naturally more curvaceous than Chinese women and as foreign nationals in the PRC are not subject to the same social issues that prostitution brings to Chinese. Ulaan Baatar, the capital city of Mongolia, is a 90 minute flight from Beijing, or alternatively a 24 hour train ride south across the Gobi, and is closer to Beijing than Shanghai is.
Accordingly, the scene of many young and attractive women in a busy nightclub packed full of expatriate men has lead to accusations of inappropriate behavior occurring, one reason why it is largely off-limits to Embassy personnel. Tame by other Asian city standards, such as Bangkok, Manila, Pataya and elsewhere, Maggie’s has however pushed the envelope as regards the type of image Beijing wishes to project during the Olympics, and the bar has been closed since the end of May. The Chinese are well aware that foreign journalists could make an issue out of the more testosterone-driven aspect of the capital city’s nightlife, thereby effectively denying the expatriate single, male population an outlet to get a bit wild over a Friday and Saturday night. Its reopening mid-September will be a cause of major celebration amongst many of its die-hard regular customers.
Meanwhile, the club that during Maggie’s recess has picked up a lot of business has been “Suzie Wongs”, near Chaoyang Park, to the North-East of the city, which remains less controversial in terms of its image, yet ironically being named after the call-girl made famous in the Hong Kong based book from which it takes it’s name – Richard Mason’s 1957 novel (later a popular film) “The World Of Suzie Wong”. Poised to win several “Best Bar in Beijing” awards from Beijing’s annual “Best of” awards run by various local listings magazines every autumn, it remains a beacon for those who want to party until the early hours.