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Chinese' salve for loneliness: Pay to drink at strangers' homes

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The rise of home bars in cities across China shows how young Chinese are craving for companionship but without having to invest in relationships.

Synopsis: Every first Friday of the month, The Straits Times chats with ST’s correspondents in the Asia-Pacific, the US and Europe, about life as it goes on, amid the screaming headlines and bubbling crises. 

#family-style bars is now a search term for listings of home bars, not just for first-tier cities Beijing and Shanghai, but also Zhengzhou in central China, Chengdu in the south-west and Hangzhou on the eastern coast. 

Instead of going to commercial nightspots, young Chinese are looking to spend their free time in the living rooms of strangers’ homes, where they pay for drinks, conversations and games. 

In this episode, ST’s foreign editor Li Xueying chats with China correspondent Aw Cheng Wei on why the trend is taking off, and what it says about the Chinese wanting to make connections in a safe and casual environment. 

Highlights (click/tap above):

3:48 How are home bars different from regular bars?

5:08 Home bars are not meant to make money for some owners

7:00 How home bars are part of China’s “da zi” or companion culture 

11:50 Chinese youths need for a deeper connection 

Read Cheng Wei’s article here:

Produced by: Li Xueying ( and Fa’izah Sani

Edited by: Fa’izah Sani

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