Throughout the pandemic, all eyes have been on China. Not because it was ground zero of the COVID crisis, but because it squashed a significant outbreak pretty quickly and for the rest of the year, clubs were open and they were amongst the only ones in the world that filled our feeds with dance floor debauchery during a time where we were doing nothing but sitting at home and scrolling. As such, a healthy nightlife culture bubbled, leaving room for new clubs to open and supply the demand.
GRNDCNTRL is one such club and is imagined by the same team who previously supplied us with hangovers at the Shanghai outpost of Parisian club Le Baron. Located in heart of Xintiandi, GRNDCNTRL drops the art deco vibe that its predecessor was known for in favour of a first-class feel — an undeniable must for a modern club in Shanghai.
One look at the place and you can tell that no expense was spared in its design; from private rooms to suites, VIP tables, premium glassware and vantage points from every direction, GRNDCNTRL is poised to join Shanghai’s heaviest hitters when it comes to an all-night getaway that includes dinner and dancing.
The menu delivers highly-craveable and easy to eat delights from dim sum to classic Shanghai flavours and Chinese fusion dishes that all nod to the county’s extraordinary late-night food culture. An 8-meter long bar puts the focus on mixology instead of just bottle service and offers a whiskey, rum and tequila tasting set before midnight alongside tasty tipples that are native to the new concept.
By now, we know what you must be thinking: here comes another characterless commercial music club. We get it, it has all the makings — but who says you can’t combine big room aesthetics with cool music? Besides, Le Baron played host to artists like Hudson Mohawke, Kavinsky, Sebastien Tellier, Brodinski, Q-Bert, Anna Lunoe, Talib Kweli and many, many more.
“Just like Le Baron, we inspire to keep things eclectic,” says founder Victor Aime.
“We actually split our nights in two segments: First and Second Seatings. The club is really designed to accommodate both a bar crowd until midnight and then convert to a bigger setting for club nights.”
“After midnight, our kinetic light system will start activating and the club transforms into more of an accessible / bigger size bottle club. The goal was to make things big enough that they don’t have to be exclusive, so we keep music accessible and festive. The general situation with borders really limits our abilities to do things, so we’ll have to do a lot more hip hop nights than originally planned — but there is a big pool of incredible talent to book from at the moment and the demand is here…but our intention is to also introduce house nights.”
We asked the founders specifically what kind of artists we might hope to see and hear at GRND CNTRL’s and they shared with us a playlist inspired by their opening weekend with names like Against All Logic (you know, Nico Jaar), Park Hye Jin, Boys Noize, Yaeji, Caribou, Vegyn, Pig&Dan, Floating Points and Crussen. Listen to it here.
Next door to the main room, Victor explains that there is a small secret club called CONTRAST with a 130sqm LED screen ceiling that will soon focus on techno and tech house. Finally, there is also a recording studio and private room under construction that will look to accommodate artists in the near future.
Now, for the goddamn borders to open.
GRNDCNTRL is already open in the Xintiandi neighbourhood of Shanghai. Follow them on Instagram here.