You've haven't been to Dandong in Liaoning until you've experienced Real Love -- the best disco in China bar none. With its bouncy floor, hard core drinking DJ and dingy surroundings it is a legendary haunt. What's more, it's impossible to miss. Get out at the train station, gaze up at the giant rusty red statue of Mao and follow the finger where the Great Helmsman is pointing. As the big man said, you can't have a revolution without a party.
Once inside green laser lights and techno music collide. Be warned, as you near that dance floor you are putting your liver in harm’s way. Few Westerners make it up to this cool slice of northeast China that shares a river border with North Korea. Fewer Westerners still make it to Real Love. So the novelty value of seeing a laowei bouncing up and down on the jolting disco floor is often too much for the DJ to resist.
The last time I hauled my lanky two metre frame there, all of a sudden the music stopped, the chubby DJ pointed towards me and beckoned me to his lair in front of a hundred or so bemused locals, who’d had their dancing suddenly interrupted. Operation Embarrass The Foreigner then swung into action.
A beautiful dancer handed he and I a bottle of warm beer. He urged me to down it. Was he mad? Did he seriously know who he was messing with? Me, the gigantic Asia correspondent for Beers of the World magazine against this runt. Bring it on, biiiiitch! But before I’d even swallowed the first gulp of the rather ordinary amber nectar his arms were aloft, victorious, having downed his bottle in literally a second flat! The crowd were delirious – the local having thrashed the giant marauding foreigner.
Alright, game on, I thought. You’re just a little bit rusty, Chambers, now go show him who’s boss! We were each handed a second bottle. Marks, set, go. Once again, the crowd roared their appreciation as the DJ sunk his beer before I’d barely made an indent on mine.
Jesus, this guy’s good, now might be the time to slink off, stage left with my tail between my legs, having admitted defeat, I thought. The DJ and his adoring fans were having none of it though. He bayed for a third and then a fourth bottle while making me repeat some no doubt idiotic words in Chinese into a microphone. He could have just come in from a week from the Sahara the way he downed that fourth brew, as I toiled much to everyone’s amusement.
By now the DJ could see I had had enough, but there was time for more humiliation. A fifth bottle each came out. My stomach had that distended Ethiopian thing going on. Thrashed soundly for a fifth time, I walked off stage to huge applause. My prize for the ritual humiliation was sitting back at the table – a six pack.