When the seedy strip of Tongren Lu got shut down in the pre-expo spring clean, the future looked bleak for Shanghai's talking bar scene.
After a couple months it became pretty clear that they all weren't working for the Big Bamboo like they were advertising. So where did they all go? Surely not back to college - how could the girls afford all those textbooks now?
With barely an announcement, they're back and have been given an underground strip all of their own. Datong Mill.
Sure, there's been whispers on the wind of an airplane shaped bar and a Venetian-style street somewhere in Shanghai, but nothing has even come near to explaining what the heck has been going on underneath an unassuming patch of park at the east end of Julu lu.
Individually the elements of Datong Mill are pure wrong. The Venetian street feels like the fire escape of a vegas casino and Departure D10 is purely awful. The process of accumulation, thought, is a feast for the eyes.
Centred around a garish pond with a mini Blackpool/Eiffel/Tokyo Tower in the middle, are a handful of underground passageways packed to the hilt with empty dodgy bars. There are less people here than Thames Town, that is if you don't count the bored [ahem] waitresses lounging around like dormant lions - there's plenty of those.
We guffawed our way around in amazement for a few minutes before they started to stir, then made it out unscathed.
Datong Mill - would be an awesome place to throw a huge party.