Ink and drink: Watch this guy get a tattoo in a Beijing nightclub

This poster, written in traditional Chinese, reads: “A deer will not transform into a horse; a wrong will not transform into a right” (鹿不变成马,错不变成对 lù bù biànchéng mǎ, cuò bù biànchéng duì)

Token foreigner bands? Yes. Expensive champagne bottles with sparkler fireworks attached being paraded around to the most loaded clients? Classic. Tattoo artist? Hmm.

Of the in-club entertainments you expect inside one of Beijing’s flashier nightclubs, this last item probably wasn’t on the list. But Beijing’s party crew was treated to a slightly different night out when Xiu, a nightclub in the city’s central business district, invited a tattoo artist to ink a client behind the bar. The buzz of the tattoo needle was drowned out by the live band’s rendition of Latin classics and charts, but Bin Zi — a.k.a. Mata — was in his own world, inking away as if there weren’t a roomful of barmen rushing about trying to serve happily sloshed partygoers.

“It was an exciting experience, tattooing in a place completely different from my usual working environment,” said Mata, who has been in the tattooing business for nine years. This was, however, the first time he’s been called upon to work on a night out.

“The first challenge was to calm myself down,” he said. “My usual studio prep was completely disrupted; the position of all the items and tools, the lighting, and my posture were all different!

“It was kind of awkward until I saw the skin in front of the eyes, and the needle piercing the skin; that’s when I slowly calmed down. The noise became irrelevant to me. The tattooing process was all that mattered.”

For hygiene-aware tattoo aficionados, the choice of environment might have seemed daunting. But studio reps stressed that they wiped down all the surfaces of the bar and the immediate surroundings with disinfectant, and the bartenders seemed to keep their cocktail mixing out of the potential danger zone on the far side of the bar.

The client, on this occasion, was also pre-chosen; after all, alcohol has caused more than one person to regretfully choose permanent ink. But the studio offered something for everyone else in the form of a glitter tattoo station, involving glue and sprinkles found in acrylic nail design. The glitter tats incidentally proved a lot more robust than one would think — on myself, it survived a night of “Latin” and frantic dancing, plus subsequent showers, etc. Now, that’s value for no money at all. Just another night out in Beijing.

A client getting tattooed in a Beijing bar