At the northern edge of the China stands the city of Beijing with an enormous population of over a million people taking up 16,410.54 km2 of land. Beijing is one of the four ancient cities of the People’s Republic of China as well as its capital.
The city was massively affected during World War I, which left the capital reduced to the status of a semi-colonial civilization. The People’s Republic of China wasn’t founded in 1949 and Beijing, as its capital, has grown into not just one of the most heavily populated but one of the highly prosperous cities around the globe.
The Red Light district of Beijing is situated in the city center nearby Dashilar Street outside the Qianmen Gate to the western section of Guanyin. This area is called Bada Hutong and it encompasses eight alleys. The word hutong refers to specific types of neighborhoods that have alleys, called hutongs, formed by traditional courtyard residences, called siheyuan joined together to form alleys. Although you won’t find the typical places you’d expect to find in an RDL, like strip clubs and brothels, this area has other businesses that take the place of the normal adult entertainment venues.
History of the RLD
Brothels existed in the Bada Hutong area of Beijing since the Ming Dynasty, but during the Qing Dynasty, engaging in sex with a female prostitute became punishable by death. Male prostitution was legal, however, and homosexuality became apparent among the rich and powerful. This resulted in Bada Hutong becoming filled with male prostitute brothels. As time passed, the punishment for visiting female prostitutes reduced to a few day’s detention and a small fine. This caused a reemergence of female prostitution to the point where the female prostitutes out-numbered the male prostitutes.
Bada Hutong continued to grow after the Opium War until the beginning of the People’s Republic of China when it rapidly expanded. During this time, a famous politician and general by the name of Yuan Shikai tried to garner the support of congressmen for his political agenda, and he treated them in Bada Hutong. This area became their social spot and Bada Hutong was then referred to as the “Congressman Club”. During this period, there were brothels that tended to every budget and taste. The higher end locations had geisha-like women that poured tea, sang songs, and entertained the men. These girls were not bought but wooed over time with gifts.
How to find the RLD
The best way to find the city’s RLD is to take the city’s subway, take line 7 and get off at either the two stations of Hufangqiao or Zhushikou. Bada Hutong is the area in the center of Beijing to the western side of Guanyin Temple and close to the Dashilar Street just outside the Qianmen Gate.
Stay safe in the RLD
Although rare, pickpocketing still happens in Beijing, so always be aware of your personal belongings, especially in crowded areas. Also, don’t intervene in any conflicts that you see, as it may just result to you getting involved in nasty fights. Beware of scammers inviting you into their tea shop or to see their artwork. Often times these people will be young and attractive, but they force you to spend a lot of money before allowing you to leave. Don’t follow any strangers to any location. Also, be careful of scams at the airport for they are likely impostors who look like official taxi drivers, but will charge you up to ten times more than a normal taxi.
Even though prostitution is illegal in Beijing, there is plenty of it happening in the city. Working girls can be found everywhere from hotels and pubs to karaoke bars and beauty salons.
A very common and interesting place to find working girls is at a chain karaoke bar called KTV, while one of the most popular and ubiquitous places to find erotic pleasure are the massage parlors which can be found all over the city. To add to the unique list of places to find sex workers, pink lighted barber shops are filled with attractive girls in sexy dresses that do not provide haircutting services, but sexual services. It won’t be hard to find prostitutes in Beijing, especially as a tourist.
Barbershops are worth a mention in this section as these shops are manned by young eye-catching ladies who wait by the establishment’s windows. These shops are not a place you’d go to get a haircut, rather they are a location to go to get a quick hand-job. They are more along the lines of a brothel. They have windows lit up with red or pink lights. Inside, there are pretty young girls dressed in sexy outfits, who are paraded in front of you for you to select the one you’re most interested in. In essence, these barbershops function like a brothel and are a great place to go if you’re looking for a quickie.
There are no adult cinemas in Beijing by standard terms, but there are relatively erotic theater shows in Beijing, roughly 80 shows a night. The show tries to make it very clear what the content is for the play, even going as far to include introduction lines that indicate that the show is sexual.
Prostitution is illegal throughout China through the 1991 Decision on Strictly Forbidding the Selling and Buying of Sex, although the law focuses more on third-party involvement such as brothel owners and pimps. The death penalty can be used as punishment, but only for extreme cases like repeated offenses of organized prostitution activities that cause bodily harm. Chinese police force uses a strong presence to deter prostitution, and arrests are more common among the female workers than the male buyers. The majority of prostitutes arrested are only being made to pay a certain fine.
Homosexuality was only recently decriminalized in 1997. Same sex marriage is still illegal, however, Beijing will provide dependent residency status to a foreigner of a legal resident in a same sex relationship. It is still illegal for minors to change their officially listed gender, requiring that sexual reassignment surgery is required. This surgery is only available to those age 21 and older.
In a city as massive as Beijing, you can bet that there is a vast amount nightlife options from which to choose, and you’d be right as Beijing’s nightlife has been expanding rapidly over the past decade. There are world-renowned clubs like the following:
The gay scene in Beijing is limited and relatively small. Gay guys and girls tend to socialize in small friend groups. The best way to break into the scene is to become friends with locals who can introduce you to their social group. You’ll then have an ability to meet singles in their network. Because of this, Beijing is not a city for an easy one-night stand, but with some time and a little bit of luck, you can find your holiday romance.
General Attitude Towards Gays
The general attitude towards gays in Beijing isn’t as progressive as the Western World. Homosexuality has only been legal since 1997 and was classified as a mental illness until 2001. That being said, the city is trying to promote the opening of gay-friendly locations, but that doesn’t help change the negative stigma embedded in many of the locals. Although, if you are gay, you’ll feel comfortable most of the time in the city, though there may be sometimes when you feel as if you’re not welcome.
Gay Prostitution in Beijing
There is no one location for Beijing’s gay scene, but the Sanlitun District has a good concentration of gay bars and clubs.
If you’re looking for ladyboys, then head over to Xiu’s Pickup Bar in the Chaoyang district. Many transsexuals hang out here and offer full services for $50 or less. This bar is also frequented by gay and lesbian prostitutes.