The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Nightlife in Taipei… what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger

Written By: herbrunbridge - Aug• 16•11

Mural in Taipei's Blue Note

At an estimated 2.5 million people (and an almost unbelievable 25,000 people per square mile), Taipei’s gotta have some entertainment options. We here at WoWasis don’t have much left in the ear department after our visit to Taipei’s Brown Sugar bar, and we’re still trying to get our stomach back in order after an hour in the adult district known as the “Combat Zone.” We put some heavy work into nightlifing, and you’ll be the beneficiary.

The best

For our money, the best two clubs in Taipei are both tiny, and are in the same small building. They are the Blue Note and Oldie Goodie. They both have great bands, nice staff, and are not oppressively loud, so you can actually hold a conversation with your companion. Blue Note is a jazz club, and it’s been around since 1974. It’s on the 4th floor of 171 Roosevelt Road. There’ a NT$350 cover, and it takes care of your first drink. A great place to start an evening, and the music begins at 9:40. Walk down to the second floor for Oldie Goodie, where we enjoyed a terrific salsa band.

  • Blue Note
    171 Roosevelt Road (at Shida Road), 4th Floor
    Tel: 02-2362-2333
    Cover charge: NT$350, includes first drink
    MRT: Taipower stop
  • Oldie Goodie
    171 Roosevelt Road (at Shida Road),2nd Floor
    Tel: 02-2369-3686
    No cover charge
    MRT: Taipower stop

Good, but not always prime choice

Carnegie’s is a classic expat hangout. We heard a Canadian bending the year of the Yank sitting next to him about ice hockey (we moved down a few stools). Then a Yank businessman came in and ordered a Budweiser (we always wondered who drank that stuff). I would guess you wouldn’t go to Carnegie’s to discuss the fine points of Taiwanese culture, so let’s just say that Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights are when the crowds show up. There’s a cover charge those nights, but the friendly barmaid told us that your hotel can probably get you a free pass, so ask.

Only a couple of blocks away from Carnegie’s is where you’ll find EZ5 (they’re both in Taipei’s Da’an neighborhood), which specializes in live music. The night we were there, and energetic guy fronted a band that played a bunch of Lionel Ritchie/Stevie wonder-type stuff, heavy on audience participation. All in all, a fun bar, with a NT$1000 cover that includes two drinks.

The friendly bar maid at Carnegie’s told us Sunday was the night to go to Brown Sugar, and sure enough, it was jam-packed. People were there to dance to the very good salsa band. I hope they brought their own dates, because the music was so loud — even 30 feet away from the stage — they couldn’t have participated in a conversation anyway. Maybe their dates were ugly. The place was nearly pitch-black, so making out anyone’s facial features beyond a few feet was impossible. In our experience, a really dark dance bar means there’s a strong cougar-cub scene there, so if that’s your thing, maybe this bar is for you.

Scraping below the surface

  • The “Combat Zone” on Shuangcheng Street behind the Imperial Hotel. Worth a review in itself.

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