By Jim Boyce | I began this nightlife blog ten years ago this month. I hoped over the past week to write a few posts about the best (and maybe worst!) bars, events and people of the past decade and to get together with old friends for drinks, but deadlines, Maovember and life in general jumped the queue. Such is life. Those posts and pints will steadily move up the line.
I started BB in October 2006 after doing a bars e-newsletter for a year. The idea came from many people (blogs were trendy!), my boss okayed it (we agreed I wouldn’t cite the company name) and I used a photo of a “Jing B” license plate as my logo (I took the shot from the backseat of a taxi near Dongzhimen).
The early BB archives now rest on a hard drive, as I switched servers a few years back, but the first newsletter covered the Hilton wine fair, Louisiana restaurant and a Chopshticks comedy show at former bar Icehouse (part of a Qing Dynasty-era venue in Wangfujing) plus mentions of Beer Mania, John Bull Pub and the new Bookworm (the old one made way for Sanlitun Swire Village).
Back then, I frequented spots like First Cafe, Stone Boat, The Den, Beer Mania, Bar Blu, Black Jack Garden, Suzie Wong, Goose & Duck, The Big Easy, CD Jazz Cafe and Passby Bar, the latter in a then-largely deserted NLGX.
The blog has absorbed a good deal of time and cash–and, for the millionth time, I’ll mention it makes no money–but has allowed me to meet many intriguing people from the bar, restaurant, wine, beer and other trades as well as from among my fellow imbibers. (Yes, I’ve also dealt with some jackasses but the vast majority of people in the scene are good.) I doubt Grape Wall of China, World Baijiu Day, Canada Restaurant Week, my involvement in Maovember, and plenty of tastings, dinners and parties would have happened without it.
BB also had some side effects, from helping people get jobs to sourcing booze for weddings and birthday parties to recommending all manner of beers, spirits and wines to inquiring readers to linking suppliers and venues and journalists and interviewees. I’ve helped (or tried to help) mediate bar partnership breakups, given away hotel rooms, meals and booze (including, one time, 100 bottles of vodka), and been able to get an inside look at the bar scene from many of the entrepreneurs working in it.
I post less now, both because I’m busy with other projects and the blog isn’t as relevant. When I started, social media was in its infancy and few bars and restaurants had websites or newsletters. Facebook, Weixin and other online tools mean we now have a nonstop flow of info from venues–and from a bigger and more diverse scene to boot. We’ve gone from desperately seeking info to sometimes trying to hide from it.
In any case, I’ve enjoyed watching the Beijing scene grow, seeing the rise in choice and quality, and getting to know so many entrepreneurs. A big thanks to all of the wait staffs, bartenders, chefs, suppliers, managers, owners and others out there who helped this consumer understand and enjoy your world. And to my fellow imbibers: thanks for the tips on what’s happening, the advice on what to cover, and the many, many good nights of enjoying meals and drinks together in this city we call home.