16 George Street
Tel: 0131 270 3900
Flanked by some of Edinburgh’s most opulent night spots, this subterranean club elicits images of eastern promise, exotic sounds and tasteful, understated class. The reality is somewhat harsher however; Shanghai is about as classy as a drunk girl hitching up her skirt to urinate on the dance floor. And as for the Chinese connection, well, there’s some bamboo in a glass display case, but that’s about as Asian as it gets in here. In fact Shanghai represents China about as accurately as those tartan shops on the Royal Mile represent Scotland. In fairness however, picking on a nightclub on account of its name is somewhat vindictive, especially when there are far bigger sins to be vilifying it for. Indeed, there may be a case for stating that establishments such as Shanghai don’t really belong in as prestigious a review guide as this. Nevertheless, the chances are that sooner or later you’re bound to stumble in here out of sheer desperation or drunkenness, and it’s only right that we should warn you what to expect.
Remember the sort of clubs you used to go to when you were 17, the ones that were stowed with sparsely-dressed females, horrific chart music and the obligatory concierge dishing out Pandrops in the bogs? Visiting Shanghai is like reprising your youth, unless you’re fortunate enough to still be a teenager, in which case Shanghai is your youth. And for all its sins, there are worse places to be than Shanghai on a Tuesday night. Admittedly, only Cav springs to mind, but that’s another review for another day, should we ever have to resort to barrel-scraping.
Let’s be honest, no one comes to Shanghai for the banging tunes, quality banter and good drink served at reasonable prices. No, Shanghai’s clientele are solely here to get smashed and cop some scantily-clad ass on the dance floor. That in itself is fair enough, for who can honestly say they’ve never stepped out with the sole intention of consuming enough fluids as to facilitate the later exchange of bodily fluids down some pish-scented alleyway? We’re not proud of it, but we’ve all been there, done that and will probably do it again when we’re next enduring a barren spell. At such times, Shanghai is your saviour. The rest of the time however it should be your bête noire. Inexplicably, the more alcohol one consumes, the better the music and the talent seems to get in the club. By 2am, this place is a total riot. If you’re wondering, incidentally, why clubs such as Shanghai have a resident photographer, it’s so that the patrons, upon sobering up 48 hours later and going on Facebook, are able to reconstruct their movements over the weekend.
Try: Getting obliterated before you get here. With a near-fatal amount of alcohol in your system, the tunes become almost danceable.
Avoid: Tipping the concierge for handing you a paper towel. For £1, we’d also expect him to point and shake it for us as well as drying our hands.
Typical prices: Pretty cheap, provided you smuggle in a half-bottle in your handbag and top it up with mixer all night.