Beijing’s Olympic-Caliber Parties

Hong Kong and Shanghai have long been the capitals of cool in the Sinosphere. But Beijing‘s trend-setters are trying to take advantage of the international attention brought by the Olympics to earn their own spot on Asia’s glamor map.

Apparently, they have been somewhat successful. Outrageously posh parties are taking place all over the capital of the Middle Kingdom.

The ironically named Commune, at the Great Wall, is a modernist luxury hotel complex. A recent event there was enough to make Chairman Mao do a 360-degree roll in his tomb. The venue’s developers were on hand, along with a host of scantily clad dancers, flashing lights and expensive cocktails, to party with the likes of Rupert “so rich ‘n powerful he doesn’t have to be cool” Murdoch and Quincey Jones.

Corporations are trying to get in on the scene as well. A party thrown by Adidas included an appearance by Jet Li and several other big-screen stars. The proceedings were accompanied by the sporadic popping of expensive champagne corks and the handing out of even more expensive sneakers.

Official Olympic timekeeper Omega tapped former supermodel (now just model?) Cindy Crawford to appear at their corporate pavilion wearing an impossibly expensive Omega watch. Even a noticeably casual George W. was hanging around during the first few days of the Games, looking very ex-presidential.

Beijing certainly has its share of new wealth, so don’t expect all the action and celebrity to depart once the Games end. A growing music scene, a film industry that is coming to resemble Hong Kong’s in its heyday, and an independent arts scene will help keep the hipness factor high.