Now that’s a launch party

I’m not sure what our little “Venice of the East” did to encourage it, but in the last six months to a year Suzhou has gone from having virtually no English city/culture magazines to having no less than three – and with the official launch of that’s Suzhou last night, there’s little doubt the mags mean business.

When I arrived in Suzhou back in mid-2006, really the only thing on offer for hungry (and thirsty) literate expats was a couple Japanese magazines that threw in some rough English translations as an after-thought and What’s On Suzhou, an advertisement posing as a calendar.

Then in the autumn of last year Hangzhou’s premier expat glossy, MORE, entered the Suzhou market about the same time that the English-Japanese OPEN magazine kicked up its efforts to reach the English half of its market.

And as of yesterday, we officially have the biggest-backed one of them all, a that’s magazine. that’s Suzhou is published by Urbanatomy, which also publishes that’s Shanghai, that’s PRD, and the Urbanatomy guidebooks.

Suzhou SheratonThough the inaugural issue hit expat haunts earlier this month, last night’s party at the Sheraton down by Pan Gate makes it all official. Nothing like free flowing booze and hors d’oeuvres to make things “official”. The event was outdoors in the Sheraton’s stunning classically-styled garden, and the light showers and oppressive humidity were nothing that a few glasses of wine couldn’t negate. Besides – rain and humidity… THAT’S Suzhou. 😉

I got the invite to go to the party from the magazine’s managing editor, Paul Collins, and editorial director, JFK Miller, two stand-up guys whom I foolishly agreed to allow question me about my Suzhou knowledge earlier in the day (it’s shameful what I’ll do for a Starbuck’s mango frappuccino).

The magazine is starting a new section called “How Suzhounese Are You?” in which they find some witless and willing expat (as myself) who has lived in Suzhou for a while, and they ask him a bunch of questions and see how poorly he does. You’ll have to check out the August issue to see how I did, and take the test yourself.

As a consolation, they let me show up to their fancy digs and get a bit liquored up. The crowd was pretty heavy on the Shanghai imports, but there were a few Suzhou-laowai faces I recognized, and despite the rain, it was a great time.

15 Responses

  1. Next step, Nanjing!
    Nanjing is awesome, but it lacks in every sense of international-ness. More of a homegrown local scene, which is good in it’s own way, but the distance from Shanghai is felt.
    We do have a subway though, so take that!

  2. Cool. I promise to read your blog as often as posible. Hopefully soon I will be in Suzhou and will be able to create my own experiences?

    John Stewart

  3. Well that’s cool! You let them know if they ever decide to launch “That’s Chongqing” I’ll be on the first plane back to China to help them launch it. 🙂

  4. @John: I’m sure you’ll not regret the move. If nothing else it will give you some unique experiences.

    @Chinkerfly: Wha…??!! You left China. This is what I get for not hanging out on Twitter/Twirl more often.

  5. Picked up a copy, looks great. Was happy they even had my little office in the directory without having submitted it. I have to say, disappointingly MORE hasn’t grown or improved much since its conception, OPEN has had ups and downs but is ultimately crap and full of chinglish. Map Magazine has already made the jump from Nanjing (launch party last month) and is a nice, free, bilingual rag which is pretty appealing to me though i havent seen much of it around.

    I look forward to the unbiased and to the point restaurant reviews in the back like the Shanghai edition of That’s.

  6. Heh, well it’s only been a couple weeks and it wasn’t exactly a conscious decision on my part. I basically got deported for not understanding my visa.

  7. I am lucky to find your blog on the web. We invite you to write original articles for a blog named as Westernwords operated by our company, which is about strategies, news, trend and case study of translation industry. I will appreciate you to order your articles with 500-1000 English words about the above aspects above.
    You can quote me by one article and I will paid after I release it on our blog. I will give you a subject each time or you may choose a subject confirmed by us to start writing.
    I will need 4-8 articles each month.
    As a cooperation return, I would request a link from your blog to ours in order to have both of our articles shared by wide audience.
    Hope we have a long term cooperation.

  8. All we have here in Nanjing is ‘Map’.
    Map…is interesting. On the one hand, it’s big, full of great pictures, and it’s bilingual. I like all of that. On the other hand, many of the articles really just aren’t that interesting. It could just be Nanjing…maybe we’re just not that interesting.
    It is, however, better than nothing. Here’s to a good Suzhou version.

  9. @Jason: We’ve got Map now too – and the tabloid format isn’t bad, but upon quick review there’s not a thing in it related to Suzhou – it appears that they’ve just slapped a “Suzhou Edition” on the masthead and sold (more likely gave away) loads of advertising to local Suzhou businesses.

  10. @Jason: Incidentally, why is it that once national capital and still provincial capital Nanjing always seems to take backbench to Suzhou? 😛

  11. That may well have been some party but a very poor start for such a supposedly heavy weight magazine. I don’t know if anybody else noticed this but all of the listings in the back were ripped directly off the More Magazine website. The proof is that the only description for any of those listings was Harry’s Bar, and it was word for word the same as what has been in More since I came to Suzhou. Looks like they copy and pasted and forgot to do all the deleting.
    I prefer More. It’s always has good local information and they aren’t lazy plagiarists.

  12. I’ve no loyalty to either magazine, but I will hazard a guess that More didn’t go out and burn shoe leather getting those addresses in the first place.

    As a writer and former journalist I am reasonably sensitive to plagiarism, but don’t know if I’d call copying public addresses such.

  13. @AJ: Welcome to Suzhou. You can find the mags pretty much anywhere expats congregate. The Western restaurants in SIP are where I usually get my copies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *