10 things you forgot happened this year (originally appeared in TimeOut Beijing)

If you’re already doing your research on what to do and where to go this New Year’s Eve, it can only mean one thing – yet another year in Beijing has gone barreling past us quicker than a fleet of madcap bikes.

And what a year it was. There were highs, there were lows, there were even buses with wi-fi by the end of it. But if it’s all gone by just a bit too fast for you to really grasp, we’ve combed over some of our favourite blog posts of the year to remind you just what went down in 2014.

Starting in the winter of 2014, Beijing foreigners and locals alike took to the streets to dance and lip-sync like nobody was watching to Pharrell Williams’s hit single ‘Happy’. The clip went viral on social media.


But the video earned the wrath of our then-nightlife editor Jared Cline for its poorly-worded accompanying description (‘Some choose to hate, we chose to love… This is how Beijingers reacted to… smog.’)
‘This sort of happiness, painted as a direct response to an international-headline-making crisis, is turning a blind eye, plain and simple,’ Jared wrote.

”Happy’ in Beijing’ is not an accurate portrayal of how Beijingers reacted to the smog, as they claim. Turn off the cameras and see if anyone is still dancing… For music, how about the sound of throat-clearing and phlegm splattering on pavement?’

It looked like Beijingers had gotten over their hopeless love of toxic smog by springtime, when many of them lamented the loss of hundreds of iconic red lanterns from Gui Jie (Ghost Street) in May.

Rumoured to be part of a fire prevention campaign, the lanterns were swiftly taken down over a weekend, giving the once charmingly illuminated street a darker – dare we say more ghostly – feel… well, apart from all the neon and flashing lights, obviously.

Things brightened up by July though, when the promise of an up-and-coming Beijing-based sitcom made headlines across China.

No Pets or Foreigners, created by Johannesburg-born actor Murray Clive Walker, outlines “the misadventures of two foreigners and a Chinese landlord and his daughter as they attempt, and mostly fail, to bridge the cultural gap.”

Although Walker’s premise seemingly had all the ingredients of a recipe for sitcom success – two clueless laowai, “a lot of toilet humour”, a director with “awesome guanxi” – the moderate buzz that surrounded this show appeared to have subsided by the summer.


If that wasn’t enough to turn your stomach, August turned out two of Beijing’s biggest food stories of the year.

The well-loved Two Guys and a Pie store closed its doors early in the month, breaking the hearts of Australians across the capital.

To make matters worse (or better, depending how you like it), McDonalds suffered a spoiled meat scandal that saw all its beef products removed from their menu for several weeks.

It became a summer of woefully slim pickings for many late night fast food fiends. Supplies of McChicken sandwiches and chicken drumsticks were quickly picked over during the day, leaving only the much-maligned Filet-o-Fish at the end of the night for dispirited drunken revellers.

And while it’s hard to imagine anything more serious than a Big Mac famine, remember that time Chinese police raided then piss-tested an entire nightclub?

In a move that left many Beijingers awkwardly tugging at their collars, a mid-August raid on nightclub 2 Kolegas ended with the arrest of nine people for testing positive for drugs. Five of the arrestees were foreigners, who were deported faster than you can sing, “She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie…”.

Autumn had the displeasure of seeing one of its most historic hutong districts destroyed when Gulou was razed in September. An on-going revitalisation project that had slowly been dismantling the alleyways over the years eventually claimed not only the Drum and Bell courtyard, but much of the surrounding area as well.

The Drum and Bell courtyard closure was only temporary, however, yielding to a more contemporary and gaudier square.

But that wasn’t the last place that would unexpectedly shut down in 2014.

Amid alleged concerns about possible embarrassments during APEC, the Yen Fetish Halloween party was prematurely shut down leaving costumed party-goers all dressed up and with nowhere to rave. Refunds were offered, but Halloween was ruined and with nothing more to show for it than a sky as blue as Alec Baldwin’s eyes.

And that was the year 2014, at least according to our pick of the blog posts. But if we’ve left out anything, feel free to give us your thoughts in the comments section below.


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