Ellen’s Bar, Where A Language Barrier is used to Give Free Drinks to Foreigners

Ellen’s Bar, which is situated on Guangzhou Road, Nanjing in close proximity of many universities, so you can imagine there would be quite a few foreign customers. What made Ellen’s discriminatory policy so interesting, was that it relied solely on a language barrier.


Here’s a photo of the sign at the front counter of the bar. It says:

Dear friends:

Free beer and whisky coke everyday up to 10:00pm

But this is where the problem begins. Silly old me, Australian born Chinese went to order a free beer. They refused to give it to me. They asked how I knew that they would give out free alcohol before 10pm. I said it’s right there on the counter in English. The bartender was perplexed, I could read the sign. He still refused to give me the drinks. I told him, that I was going to call the authorities if he didn’t, as he is discriminating against me, thinking I could not comprehend English. Anyway, I eventually got the drinks and he was noticeably peeved off.

Pretty much, their free drink policy for foreigners, was based on the hopes of Chinese people not being able to read the sign at their counter. Which sounds crazy, considering that Nanjing University is right next door and it is one of the premier insitutes of education in China, how could no other Chinese have noticed this sign?

What was really infuriating, was I noticed that all the Chinese customers, were taking out notes and their phone to pay for the actual drinks. This meant the owner of the bar was using Chinese money to stay afloat so foreigners could get free drinks.

I’m no stranger to the Chinese nightlife scene in terms of discriminatory pricing, it’s been an ongoing issue for probably longer than I’ve been alive. Where Caucasians generally get free entry, free drinks and free tables just based on their skin colour. It’s also hard to argue against, as everytime you do, there’ll be some crazy white supremacist types, who will defend it at all costs.

Sometimes it even includes weird interpretations of supply side economics, such at this example on Reddit. An expat asked for examples racism towards foreigners, and when he was hit with only examples of racism towards local Taiwanese, this gem of bad economics popped out.

Doesn’t sound like racism, sounds more like they’re trying to attract foreigners. If we’re thinking of the same Club Box, women get in for almost half price. That’s targeting demographics. Literally everything you described is targeting demographics, from higher salary (which you really should’ve negotiated) to lower entry fee.

But anyway, please boycott future establishments that dabble in such discriminatory policies.

What else can be done?

This entry was posted in All on by .

About Tyrone

I have a BA in Politics, as if that matters...but otherwise I'm just sitting here looking at some maps. Yes, I love maps and especially historical maps. Otherwise, I am just another human being.

4 thoughts on “Ellen’s Bar, Where A Language Barrier is used to Give Free Drinks to Foreigners

  1. A.C. Archer (@ImperialMaj)

    Hey man, having experienced the club scene in Shanghai as a Chinese American, I’ve also seen how they give out free drinks to foreigners (especially white people) and deny the same to Asian people, even if they aren’t Chinese. I experienced that myself on a few occasions, where my friends got the “VIP” foreigner wristbands to drink for free and I didn’t. Obviously this is some racist, white worshipping, discriminatory bullshit.

    Instead of boycotting the establishment, I suggest that you keep going back, getting your free drink, and informing all the patrons there about the sign that says free drinks until 10pm. Let’s see how long that racist policy lasts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheng Post author

      Yeah, sounds like a good idea. I’ll be in China next week, thinking of getting a camera and filming how it all goes. Cheers



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