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First Look: Snake Livehouse

A new Sanlitun music venue hidden away inside Yashow market

Lee Williamson
What is it? Snake Livehouse is a punky live music venue hidden on the seventh floor of Yashow market. We know, right? Cool. Very Cool. It's days like these that make you glad you live in Beijing.

The venue has been around for a few months as CYT Tattoo Club, a tattoo parlour and bar, but the owners have just started putting on live shows in the venue's small staging area, which can accommodate around 100 people. They've also introduced the totally badass name of Snake Livehouse (but are also still going under CYT Tattoo Club, seemingly).

This autumn, the space was building a good rep as a pretty top-notch tattooists, with international artists from around the world visiting for residencies. They still have that - the private booths for inking are just to the left of the stage - but now they're now also focused on live music. Obviously. Why wouldn't they?

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What can we expect? Well, it might be too early to tell in terms of the music. They're kinda new to this. Last weekend we went to a punk show featuring Bastards of Imperialism (pictured above), headlined by The Diders, but this weekend they have a hip-hop showcase (speaking of which, check out our guide to Beijing's star MCs of the future). So the programming is kind of all over the place. Most gigs are on the weekend. To see what's going on, check out the show schedule (Chinese only).

As for the decor, it's bat-s**t crazy – and brilliant. The grimy, beige floor tiles and multicoloured spinning lights make it kind of look like a trashy '80s Euro disco in a second-tier city – but a cool one. It's difficult to describe. There are Buddhist statues and iconography, dark-wood swing chairs and antique furniture, a pool table and taxidermied animal busts dotted around. Seriously – you need to check out this place. It's brilliantly weird.

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The bar is nice and cheap with mixers going for around 35RMB. A Tsingdao will set you back 20RMB – and they have three-for-two offers going. Most shows are free but some have a cover of around 60-80RMB, according to the guys we spoke to.

We say It's a really cool space that feels like nothing else in Beijing. The soundsystem was having a few issues when we were there, but in general it's a unique place to check out the grassroots alternative scene. Gulou: you're no longer the only alternative kid in town. Yashow's hot on your heels. And it's wearing a s**t-ton of fake Converse.

Get there The venue is open waaaaay later than the market, so you'll need to enter via a side door on the west side of the building (the side not facing Taikoo Li). Go through the side entrance (you'll see a neon sign for a tattoo parlour) and head down the corridor until you find an elevator. Head up to the sixth floor and turn left. Walk along the corridor, past a pool hall and up the stairs to the venue.

Snake Livehouse Seventh Floor Yashow Market 58 Gongti Bei Lu, Sanlitun, Chaoyang district Open 2pm-2am daily. See listing for full address details.
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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