Illustration: Lu Ting/GT
A recent dispute erupted over the noise drunken expats make when being turfed out of bars and clubs around the city. Noise pollution is a contentious issue, particularly in residential areas, where people understandably resent being woken up by the loud frolicking of foreigners.
The disagreement is not caused by a cultural divide, as any residents in any country in the world do not appreciate being disturbed by revelers. So what is it that's driving these people to be so loud and inconsiderate?
Looking at the nightlife in Shanghai, there are a number of clubs and bars open until late, very late. Even after the clubs have shut, you can still usually find a bowling alley or two in which to finish the night. Not to mention that cabs roam the streets 24/7, meaning you don't have to worry about getting home. What draws the partygoers into certain clubs on certain nights is the deals they have on.
Clubs and bars around the city try to outdo each other, offering better deals, cheaper drinks, and longer happy hours. Ladies' nights rule supreme, with many around the city even extending them late into the night. The supply of free alcohol doesn't stop there. The notorious "happy hour" means free drinks, full stop. Some don't even charge an entry fee, but supply a constant alcoholic stream to happy clubbers. Many claim the alcohol is fake, but it gets the job done.
Another marketing strategy is the 100 yuan ($16.29) free bar; pay to enter, then however much you can physically drink is yours, no limitations. The only obstacle is getting the bartender's attention in the five-deep crowd surrounding the bar.
In my opinion, it isn't fair that people make too much noise after they've been drinking and wake up local residents. However, if clubs are giving out drinks for free, what do they expect will happen? While all behavior is down to the individuals themselves, bar managers and those who come up with the marketing strategies should also answer for their actions. They encourage people to come to their bars for the alcohol. A free bar means only one thing, and it's what people come for.
Residents may be angry at the expats who make so much noise, but I think some of the blame should also be with the clubs. To solve the problem of noise pollution, for starters don't put clubs in residential areas. Have a fairly reasonable closing time, and don't simply give out free drinks. Giving out free drinks and having lots of people come and party in your establishment may make your club "cool" and "the place to be," but some consideration should be made for neighbors who must sleep through the nightly din. Some clubs choose to offer these deals mid-week, so maybe a compromise could be met where endless free drinks are replaced by a small entry fee, and then to only have them on the weekends.