Spring Cleaning -- Beijing's 'dirty bar street' is no more

Updated 2017-05-22 09:31:22 CGTN
Dirty street after facelift.

Dirty street after facelift.

With Beijing playing host to many world leaders at the recent Belt and Road Forum, several areas of the capital underwent something of a facelift.

And nowhere was this truer than in the popular entertainment district of Sanlitun, where a strip colloquially known as "Dirty Bar Street" underwent an altogether more radical change.

In its heyday, dirty street was home to dive bars, DVD shops, beauty parlors, and small eat-outs that were crowded and cheap.

Now, it's been reduced to a strip of empty ground.

All the shops were shut down in an end-of-April facelift to get rid of illegal construction that has been here for some 10 years.

One has now relocated to a nearby shopping mall, with a much nicer look. But its manager is nostalgic.

"I didn't even dare go to the demolition on the day. I was afraid to get too emotional. After all, I spent so many years there," says Liu Feng, manager of a nail shop.

Still, Liu is a lucky one. She says none of her former neighbors managed to stay around.

As her shop moved, the rent also increased. Liu says it is now some 20,000 US dollars more each month. "So we have to work extra hard to keep old-timers and attract newcomers and promote it harder since passers-by are few now. But we see the move as a chance to grow."

Onesideofthetorndirtystreetremainsbustling.

Passers-by today seem to welcome the cleaner surroundings.

"The clean-up is good! It used to be so dirty, crammed up, and smelly in summer!" one young Chinese who worked there told CGTN.

Another passer-by agreed, but only partially: "It is cleaner, but also much less fun."

Anyone who misses the clamor of the place, can still turn to the opposite side of the street, which is safe for now.

Just one block away from Liu's older shop, Sanlitun is at its best – clean, green, and glamorous, the way Beijing hopes the whole city can be. The local government is taking down 40 million square meters of illegal construction this year alone to meet this goal.

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