What can we say about Temple Bar? It’s the place you go not only to see some great acts from Beijing’s thriving music community but also to rage until the sun comes up. It’s a bar made for people who hate clubbing, but want to stay up late with the rest of the vampires listening to great tunes, drinking draft beers, or downing shots from their insanely lengthy menu.

At the heart of this institution is Pink. She is far from girly if you were wondering, and she would probably put the pop star of the same namesake in a neck brace if put in a fantasy cage fighting scenario. But we digress.

Pink got her start in Beijing’s dive bar scene after landing a job at Salud in Nanluogu Xiang, about six years ago. It was here learning the basics of tending bar that led to her crossing paths with Clement, one of the founding fathers of Temple Bar. At the time, there wasn’t much in the Gulou area besides MAO Livehouse for experiencing live rock n roll. This was a void that Clement and partner Gao Xu intended to fill.

“At the time, Salud was cool, but they really hated some of the rock bands we would bring in, so that’s where the idea for Temple Bar came from,” Pink says. So they snagged the current space on the second floor of the 206 compound in Gulou and proceeded to turn it into the den of excess that it is today. Pink was present from the very beginning and learned first-hand the inner workings of the business. After the departure of Clement, she worked her way up to bar manager.

It is a Sisyphean task running a dive such as Temple. Along with serving drinks, there comes a whole load of other responsibilities including organizing gigs and promotion. There is little monetary reward for most people who get into the bar business. The work is long and tough, and the payouts aren’t normally very substantial. This in combination with rents getting higher and higher, there is only way to ensure survival, and that’s by pulling yourself up by those leather pants, night after night and working your butt off to provide alcohol-fueled entertainment to the masses.

“It’s a hard job, but you need to be very strong mentally and not give up. Sometimes I feel down about business, or whatever else is happening in my life, but the friends I have met through Temple always make me feel better. The friendships are the best part. At times, the bar feels like a living room,” Pink says.

Pink has a quality to her that is part snake charmer and part lion tamer. Whenever there is a fight about to break out, she is the first one into the fray, usually followed by a crew of devoted patrons, ready to diffuse the situation. Maybe it’s her training in kickboxing or just a fearless demeanor, but she always effortlessly succeeds in removing the tensions that emerge when mixing loud tunes, copious amounts of hooch, and people competing for the attentions of the opposite or same sex. Spending lengths of time at Temple Bar is like mainlining a rock n roll lifestyle that is equal parts indulgence, Keith Moon drum solos, and toxic for your liver. It’s the only music venue that we can think of that doesn’t lose customers once the music is over, retaining the crowd with superb tunes provided by Compact Dicks and round after round of coffee shots creating drunken shenanigans.

Pink is particularly proud of giving many emerging bands their first opportunity to be heard. It is a springboard for many local and expat acts towards more shows and bigger venues.

“This was the inspiration behind our Fresh Blood night every Wednesday, and if they’re good we’ll ask them to play more and more,” she says.

RELATED: Weekend Gig Guide, July 29-31

If your band is interested in giving the Temple stage a try contact Pink over WeChat (templebarpink) and be the fresh blood. But beware, as you might encounter the occasional obese white devil shouting “Led Zeppelin” or “Free Bird” and other such profanities if your tunes fail to match the inhabiting clientele on that particular evening.

Temple is currently in the throes of its five-year anniversary. If you'd like to witness the mayhem, and get involved, head over to Gulou this weekend to catch the last remaining parties.

More stories by this author here.

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Photos: Kipp Whittaker


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