Master something new with these creative classes in Beijing

Better your already wonderful self

Feeling that annual sense of existential insignificance again this new year? Thinking you could impress inquisitive family and friends with more tangible evidence of a travel-induced 'broadened mind'? Or want to simply add something new to your repertoire of awesomeness? Until ‘smog-dodging’ becomes a real thing, why not try out some of these classes you can take right here in Beijing.

Photography

The SLab

The SLab

In a world where we all have a camera at our fingertips – along with a whole suite of editing apps – it may seem unnecessary to take a class in photography. But for those that truly want to capture something special, learning the art of composition, framing and lighting really is as important as ever.

Canadian photographer François Nadeau offers classes on a range of topics, including digital photography, lighting, street photography and introductions to software programmes such as Adobe Lightroom, as well as two-day workshops on photography basics. Classes are held at The SLab every week, and there is a photography club that amateur and professional camera-lovers can join. 

Two-day workshops are 2,400RMB; contact François for pricing on other classes. Please bring your own manual camera and lenses, if available. For more information, or to book your class now, head to aminumerique.com or contact François on WeChat (ID: aminumerique). More details can also be found from The SLab at theslab.space or via WeChat (ID: TheSlabBeijing).

Image: François Nadeau

Drawing and painting

Atelier

Atelier

For those looking to refine their still-life and life skills, there are a number of opportunities in Beijing. Atelier offers life-drawing sessions at its Sanitun branch (every other Monday, 7.30-9.30pm, 180RMB. Needs pre-booking), where there is no teacher, just the model, materials and you. 

For a more directed experience, Atelier also offers two-hour drawing and painting classes (every Monday 1pm, 7.30pm (Sanlitun); Sunday 10.30am and 4.10pm (Shunyi)). In these taught classes, students learn a variety of methods, including the technical aspects of perspective, scale and composition, as well as how to use different materials, from pastels to watercolours and charcoal. Supplies are provided. For more information, head to atelier.cn.com or get in touch via WeChat (ID: atelierartschool). 

Image: courtesy of Atelier

Q Space

Q Space

Elsewhere, Q Space, a ‘queer-feminist maker space in Beijing’, offers a safe, inclusive space for the LGBT+ community in Beijing. Every first and third Sunday of the month, Q Space hosts life-drawing sessions (7.30pm, 35RMB) where participants are exposed to new ideas and challenging themes in order to better understand and discuss gender expression and sexuality. Q Space is open to all, believing in the fundamentals of radical inclusion. Q Space provides basic drawing materials and offers hot wine in the winter, and sangria during the warmer months. 

Modernista

Modernista

Need a bit of liquid inspiration to unlock your inner artist? Every Tuesday night from 9pm, Modernista hosts its long-running free drawing session, Drink & Draw. The topic of the session changes weekly, with past events covering everything from origami to Edward Scissorhands. Modernista provides pens and paper, but participants are welcome to bring their own supplies as well. Check their WeChat (ID: Modernista_BJ) for more information.

Image: courtesy of Modernista

Jewellery

The SLab

The SLab

In case you’ve never found the perfect piece of jewellery for your collection, The SLab offers just the right antidote – learn to make basic jewellery pieces yourself with Metalsmithing 101 classes. Participants learn to drill, saw, pierce, sand, solder and more in this eight-hour programme (that can be split into four-week, three-day or two-day modules at your desire). Walk home with your very own piece of silver jewellery, handmade with those own two hands. 

2,400RMB for the full eight-hour programme (all materials and tools provided). For more information, visit theslab.space or contact The SLab on WeChat (ID: TheSlabBeijing).

Image: courtesy of The SLab

Traditional Chinese arts

Cultural Keys

Cultural Keys

If you’ve been to China and haven’t tried calligraphy, have you really been to China at all? While the answer is, of course, yes, calligraphy and other traditional Chinese arts are well worth a few classes, as the fine brushwork and technical detail are historical relics in and of themselves. 

For workshops on calligraphy, painting (including on paper, gourds and fans), knotting and paper cutting, head to Cultural Keys for an immersive experience. Located out east in the Xiaopu Art Village, classes at Cultural Keys can also include downtown pickup and drop off, a guided tour of the Xiaopu Art Village, as well as lunch or dinner.

Classes start from around 888RMB for two people, with extras excluded (transport 700RMB per group; lunch or dinner 50RMB per person; guided tour 100RMB per person). Visit culturalkeys.cn for more information, or contact them on WeChat (ID: CulturalKeysCN).

Image: courtesy of Cultural Keys

Pottery

Taozui

Taozui

Beijing seems to host a veritable glut of pottery shops where you can spin your own ceramic centrepiece. For those looking for something in the city, Gulou's Taozui offers a place to have a go and discover if your handiwork is worthy of a table. One hour-long session costs 150RMB, including materials and 15 minutes' one-on-one instruction. Mandarin only.

Majiang Studio

Majiang Studio

For English speakers, or those without enough talent to follow along only in Chinese, head to Majiang Studio where you can learn pottery while sipping on hot tea or hot chocolate. Book for more than one person for additional discounts, as classes start at 189RMB per person, but go down to 158RMB per person if four or more people book. Contact Faye on WeChat (ID: fei057142) for further details. 

Image: courtesy of Majiang Studio

Fashion design and sewing

The SLab

The SLab

Whether you fancy yourself a young designer in the making, or have never even seen a sewing machine before, all are welcome at The SLab's Sewing or Pattern-Making 101 programmes. Students are taught the basics of materials, machine threading and operation, basic seams and finishes, as well as proper pinning and cutting techniques. Machines and materials are provided by The SLab, and the eight-hour programmes (1,800RMB) can be taken over four-weeks, three-days, or two-days. For more information, visit theslab.space or contact The SLab on WeChat (ID: TheSlabBeijing).

Image: courtesy of The SLab

Dance

Phoenix Dance Company

Phoenix Dance Company

Studios around Beijing offer a wide range of dance classes, from hip-hop and salsa to pole-dancing and more. Here are just some of the studios offering classes for all levels. 

For those interested in learning how to properly swing your way around a dance floor, Phoenix Dance Company offers a large range of weekly salsa classes for beginners to advanced students. Pricing starts from 1,200RMB for a six-week beginner special, to 9,000RMB for a year’s membership. Visit phoenix-dance.com for more, or contact them on WeChat (ID: phoenixdancechina).

Image: courtesy of Phoenix Dance Company

Swing Beijing

Swing Beijing

Swing Beijing also hosts social dance classes daily (except Mondays), at venues around Beijing. Regular classes usually start around 7.30pm and cost ranges from free to 50RMB. Open dances for socialising and (practicing your brilliant new skills) are held afterwards. For more information (including a full schedule), visit swingbeijing.com or get in touch via WeChat (ID: swingbeijing). 

Image: courtesy of Swing Beijing

Skyline Dance Lab

Skyline Dance Lab

If pole dancing or aerial yoga sounds like the sort of thing this new year’s New You might be after, Skyline Dance Lab offers a huge variety of classes for all levels of ability, with a tight-knit, supportive community providing a place for people to bring their individual passions for dancing, fitness and healthy living. Students can take classes in exotic pole dancing, pole skills from entry level, aerial hoop, aerial yoga, aerial hammock, flexibility, floor work and jazz classes. Skyline has a special trial discount, where you can get your first class for 69RMB or a combination of three classes for 175RMB; For more information, contact Skyline on WeChat (ID: skylinedance1, for questions; ID: Skyline-Dance, for bookings). 

Image: courtesy of Skyline Dance Lab

Zaha Club

Zaha Club

Head to Zaha Club (at one of the many locations around the city) to learn the true art of Chinese street dancing – and by that they mean hip-hop and break-dancing, not ayi square dancing. Learn from some of the biggest names in Chinese dance and get your hips working at one of their jazz, hip-hop, poppin' or breakin' classes. For more information, including membership pricing and schedules for all studio locations, head to jiahewushe.com or contact them via WeChat (ID: zahaclub). 

Image: courtesy of Zaha Club

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