This weekend saw the unveiling of two new things in the Beijing live music venue scenes: the renovations at Dos Kolegas, and the new Maybe Mars space at Di’anmen. I was lucky (and maybe just crazy) enough to get around to seeing both first-hand.
First up, the renovations at Dos Kolegas. They’ve taken over the old bathroom area in the front and extended backstage, with room for more instruments and — just a guess — booze. The bathroom sink area next to it has been turned into a bar, but was empty on Friday; apparently it will play host to food events, like when they bring in a sacrificial lamb. Unfortunately for the wallflowers amongst us, they’ve boarded up that doorway at the side of the stage, which means no more side-view photos. The good news, though, is the new toilets. Even though there wasn’t any running water on the first night, they still proved to be a step up. They’re squat toilets, and though there are male and female designations, they’re functionally unisex. It might not be any cleaner, but then, what’s Dos Kolegas without a little messy bathroom action?
Secondly, there’s the “Unnamed Space” at the corner of all the Di’anmens. The Sally Can’t Dance festival went down really well, and their little unnamed space at Di’anmen is really lovely. It’s hidden behind the most popular chestnut roaster in town, and though there was nothing in there but some quilts on the walls for soundproofing, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be awesome. There are plans to keep it open during the day as well, with perhaps a cafe space at the front, a record store, and anything else they can fit in. The bar area looked small, but even if you habitually can’t a drink back there, the space is very close to a handy 7/11. Which, it shall be noted, was cleared of all the cheap 500ml cans of beer by the end of Sunday.
All in all, venues look like they’re on the up and up. All we need is Yugong Yishan to do something about their sound system and Mao to do something about their ventilation and cooling for the summer and we’ll be pretty much set, gig-goers.