Blasted by Dawn: or, Free Sunrise, Courtesy of Hotel East

Written by Life

Posted from: Beijing

Sunday morning, just barely 6:30. Kyle and I sat bolt upright in bed as the room was invaded by ultraviolets. All the hotel rooms at East are fronted with a floor-to-ceiling window looking out over the suburbs of Hebei and are positioned to catch the sunrise. And what a sunrise. I don’t need to be an astronaut anymore: I’ve already seen the intensity of the turning earth reveal the sun ray by ray as it pours over the edge of the planet. Which is good, since between you and I, I wasn’t looking forward to peeing in my space suit.


There’s a reason little girls like rainbows.



East is Beijing’s newest and buzziest postmodernist luxury hotel, and though writing that makes me wanna throw up in my mouth a little, it’s hard to argue with the dressed-down design vibe. The room service menu was in an iPod app on the bedside table, and all the front desk staff were wearing Converse – I think it’s part of the uniform.

China Expat Beijing: indie music in Beijing





The best part? The silver-tongued gods at Splitworks managed to swing me and the rest of the Whale! crew a free overnight at the hotel and a complimentary shot at the breakfast buffet. All that just for forcing a room of people to listen to music we like. Yes. Oh yes. I think we went largely undetected among the billionaires in T-shirts until the moment Ed started the “If you were a sound, what sound would you be right now?” conversation. After that it was nothing but loud gagging and motorboats.

Xian is East’s ground-floor lobby bar, a place so unnecessarily roomy and labyrinthine that I kept expecting a minotaur to leap out and demand human sacrifice. This is less than ideal for DJing: even a sizeable crowd rattles around in there like a handful of peas in a Yahtzee cup, and if you’re trying to get anyone to dance, you’ve got to contend with the golden rule of crowds: if there’s a chair left, someone will sit in it. There is always a chair left at Xian.

And distractions, too: Xian’s basement floor houses an arcade decked out with billiards, foosball, and some Tekken 3 spinoff or something. And yet, somehow, the other golden rule carried us home: get people drunk enough and they will dance to anything, with anyone, anywhere. By 3:30, the only people left were four Whalers, ten hilariously inebriated revelers and five menacing security guards in black suits with nothing to do but stand in an ever-shrinking circle around the dance floor with their arms crossed. “Play slower music,” one demanded, “and they will go home”. But intimidation is wasted on drunks.


Beijing indie music party setup






I just heard they turned off the foreign internet in North Korea after making 3G available to tourists for a month, and my heart is breaking into tiny, fiberglass pieces. I wasn’t just looking forward to logging on from there, I had made it the entire basis of my upcoming trip. Looks like I’ll have to refocus on – sigh – culture. Oh well.