JOYCE Huang was excited and happy when her boyfriend, whom she’s dated for just over a month, arranged a special skating show date last Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Pudong.
“It was really a surprise when he took me to the fantastic show,” says the 30-year-old Shanghai woman. “You know, couples in Shanghai usually do the ‘three old things’ (dining, watching movies, shopping) for a date. His taste is very unique and I did like it.”
Before the show started, they also visited the 3D oil painting exhibition on the underground level, taking a lot of interesting pictures for each other. Later they had a nice dinner at a seafood restaurant with a view of the river from the sixth floor.
“Wasn’t it great? It’s really an amazing date. Even the thunderstorm outside meant nothing to me,” Huang says, laughing.
For many young couples, Shanghai is a paradise for dating. It never lacks in cafes, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.
But in terms of what to do, many find it a bit cliched and routine.
“Watching movies, going to theater and dining out — it seems you can only do those regular things here,” says Eric Sui, a 36-year-old Chinese-Brazilian who has been working in Shanghai for many years.
Sui says he and his girlfriend of almost two months go out two to three times a week.
They usually go to small restaurants, like those on Fuxing Road and Hunan Road, where cafes and restaurants serve authentic cuisines like Italian.
Familiar with Shanghai and knowing about many restaurants offering local cuisine and international flavors, Sui still thinks there are not many options in Shanghai, compared with his hometown — Sao Paulo.
There, he says, “you can enjoy wonderful beaches, as well as fresh and delicious seafood after only driving for less than an hour.”
“Shanghai has more and more fancy venues that are very high in cost for dating,” says Sui. “There are of course places with reasonable expenses, but during holidays they are usually overpriced.”
As a result, his plan for the coming Chinese Valentine’s Day (or Qixi Festival) on Saturday is “staying at home and making our own romantic dinner.”
After studying and living in Sydney for a long time, Huang says Shanghai is fairly expensive for dating, especially compared with other cities.
“One of my ideal dates would be driving to the areas around Shanghai and experiencing unique hotels and venues outside the city. It can be cheaper than being in Shanghai,” she says.
Working as a senior secretary at an international medical company means busy during weekdays, so Huang and her boyfriend “usually meet once a week on weekends,” she says.
“As both my home and company are close to Xintiandi, our dating venues are usually around that area,” Huang says. “And the typical things we do are usually watching movies and then dining out.”
After the recent arrangement of the ice skating show by her boyfriend, Huang says they so far have no specific plan for Qixi, but she is looking forward to some surprise.
Young couples in the city seem to explore all the possibilities for a romantic date — besides dining out, clubbing, going to the cinema or just taking a walk along the Bund.
Shanghai Daily helps identify some places to go dating, especially for the upcoming romantic festival.
What to do: Performances, skating, shopping, dining
Address: 1200 Expo Ave, Pudong
In the past six months, Mercedes-Benz Arena has played host to some of the largest names in music, including the Rolling Stones, Metallica, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift. It was honored “2013 China’s Most Dynamic Large Performance Venues.”
This summer, it will continue to provide exciting and diverse performances and sports events. The main stage will host concerts presented by Daphne Night, Hacken Lee and Alan Tam.
It also staged special events, such as the 2014 Video Games Live and League of Legends Live Battle, which was prepared especially for students.
Sports events are an indispensable activity for this summer. “Artistry on Ice” last Saturday brought top Olympic skaters to the Shanghai. If there is anything hotter than this summer heat, it will be rock music.
The Mixing Room of Mercedes-Benz Arena will play host to the popular American indie rock band The Neighbourhood, who will have their China debut on August 8. Their unique sound and style should please rock fans.
What to do: Afternoon tea
Address: 1/F, Bldg 66, 786 Julu Rd (near Fumin Rd)
Nestled in a stand-alone bungalow is this cozy garden cafe. There’s a semi-open roof with coffee tables out in the garden. Flowers are everywhere. Dark wooden tables, retro lamps, old photographs and gramophones add a rustic feel to this hidden spot. Make sure to try the chocolate cake and pasta.
What to do: Dining (French food)
Address: 855 Huashan Rd (near Fuxing Rd W.)
The quiet restaurant is an ideal place to go for young couples. It is decorated with snow-white lace curtains and vintage wall lamps, a favorite among girls. It offers authentic French food.
What to do: Live jazz, drinking
Address: 46 Fuxing Rd (near Yongfu Rd)
It offers a little flavor of Shanghai in the 1930s, which is quite romantic. Dark with red lamps and quality jazz, this live music haven features high tables and a comfortable upstairs lounge. There’s a large rooftop patio that not many people know about — but that probably means you will have to miss the music.
Mesa & Manifesto
What to do: Drinking
Address: 748 Julu Rd (near Fumin Rd)
If it’s just drinks you’re after, perhaps with a background of well-spun tunes, then this is a good choice. A sophisticated wine list and house specialty cocktails are available.
K11 shopping mall
What to do: DIY cake and chocolate, shopping, dining, exhibitions
Address: 300 Huaihai Rd M.
One of the city’s most popular shopping malls, K11 overlooks People’s Square across the Yan’an Elevated Road. It pays extra attention to art and once hosted a Monet exhibition.
In the mall, besides doing shopping and eating at fine restaurants, visitors can find some dessert and sweet shops where they can make DIY cakes and chocolates for their beloved ones.
Muse on the Bund
What to do: Dining, clubbing
Address: 99 Beijing Rd E.
Located in the historic Rockbund, the Muse on the Bund is a spacious, stylish temple of entertainment and dining. More than just a nightclub, it combines a fine Italian restaurant, a lounge area, a rooftop terrace and private VIP rooms.
As a glistening centerpiece to the lounge and club areas, the 200-square-meter Crystal Bar showcases a massive collection of 10,000 jewel-toned bottles, ensuring an endless supply of cocktails and spirits.
The lounge is intimate enough for a date, yet down-tempo and sociable enough for a group of friends to relax. The nightclub itself offers the unique brand of high-octane clubbing. Expect the same energetic DJs and grooves to keep the party going through the break of dawn.
Xuhui Riverside Greenland
What to do: Casual walk, riding bicycle, music festival
Address: Longteng Ave
If you are tired of walking among crowds of tourists on the Bund, there are some new riverside areas with nice views, fresh air and fantastic lights at night. Xuhui Riverside is one of them, with fewer people and cleaner surroundings.
There you can take a walk in the summer night or ride a bicycle along the green area. At the corner of Dong’an Road, the Riverside Greenland also holds the annual West Bund Music Festival every autumn.