"What have I done, and what am I doing here?"

In 1997, Beijing was smaller city, and Keep in Touch, Jamhouse and Nightman were the hippest venues around. There was no traffic on the ring roads, and if you got tired of Chinese food you might take a trip to Fangzhuang to visit this Italian restaurant that had suddenly appeared (should we go to Fangzhuang tonight, honey)? And the really plugged-in? They might even heard of this new district called "Sanlitun" that had a couple of upcoming bars like Poachers....

This week on Sinica, Jeremy and Kaiser are joined by two old friends from the 1990s, Jessica Meider (now a professional musician) and Jonathan Ansfield (now a professional journalist). We don't chat much about, but if you're a long-timer in Beijing, or just curious what it used to be like, join us as we look back at youth, music and share tips on how to do a backflip in a PLA-owned bars.
 said on
March 2, 2015
This was awesome! Really interesting to hear what Beijing was like in the 90s. Felt similar to the podcast Jeremy did before on China in the 70s/80s/90s but more organic and connected.

Would it be possible for Sinica to do a show about the contemporary music scene in China? Not necessarily the hottest bands/songs but more the interesting/indie stuff either musically or lyrically, the good radio stations or playing venues, bands to follow, etc. Something like what you did with Raymond Zhou and film - though am not sure if there is a similarly authoritative reviewer in the music world.

 said on
March 3, 2015
Thanks for the show.

I really feel what Jonathan is saying (around 38m) about how the inundation of information make it harder to slowly figure out China for yourself. I got here in 2010, but feel very lucky that during my first year in Xi'an I had yet to discover Twitter or the China-watcher blogosphere. My ignorance of dominant media/academic narratives meant each interaction was fresh, immediate and really quite emotional for me -- it felt like China was an onion whose layers I was slowly peeling back with each conversation and long walk.

Now the deluge of great China reporting, books, blogs, podcasts, etc has enriched my understanding, even making lots of those initial impressions seem hopelessly naive and narrow. But I wouldn't trade that first year+ for anything. That period allowed me to lay the emotional foundations of my relationship to China, and in some ways that's what will last the longest.

Other note: At 23:30 Jeremy mentions a GIF showing the growth of the subway. Not sure if this was the one he was referencing but I (being a huge subway fanboy) put together this GIF in December showing the growth from 2001-2015/6:

 said on
March 4, 2015
Great show! A lot of memories from that time. I was in Beijing 1998 and remembered the bars in Sanlitun - Public Space, The Hidden Tree, The Den, CD cafe at the 3rd ringroad... Beijing was very different then - some of taxi's were little yellow vans and you could practically anywhere in Beijing with 10 kuai.
 said on
March 5, 2015
Reminds me of my more recent experiences living in smaller provincial cities/towns...the manageable size, the freedom, the wonderful strangeness of daily experience.
 said on
March 7, 2015
I lived in Beijing 1996-1999. Really enjoyed this episode. I especially enjoyed the reference to how language has changed, and the...idiosyncratic array of foreign retailers and brands one would find in Beijing in those days.

I remember when the first Starbucks opened in Guomao, in 1997 I believe. I think there's somewhere between 50 and 100 Starbucks in Beijing now?
 said on
March 9, 2015
Wow! This one brings back memories. Our band played the Jam House every week. That place was a blast, albeit a serious safety hazzard :-) My best memory by far was a jam session with Kaiser in 97 or 98 where we belted out several RUSH tunes from Moving Pictures. Ah, the good old days.
 said on
March 15, 2015
I started visiting Beijing and China in early 2000 and ended up living in Beijing 2010-2014. So I thought that I would not be exactly the target audience for this podcast. But boy was I wrong. Absolutely great episode. It was so interesting to hear about the Beijing of the past.

I think the song Kaiser was "singing" was by 2Unlimited ;-)
 said on
August 13, 2015
Hey guys I really like this topics , make me understand what is beijing in the old days , before big crowdy city like now :D

Question : what does kaiser mean about A.B.C generation or A.B.C kids every time he says that ? ( sorry I'm french so my understand of english is not very good)
 said on
August 13, 2015
I haven't listened to this episode, but afaik ABC in China often refers to American-born Chinese .
Mark Lesson Studied