The Snake Pit - A Club with History

Vera Tse   |   August 30, 2021

The Snake Pit, located in Shekou, is a club with history. I think its name is not strange for those expats who come to Shenzhen in the early year, but i believe still many new expat want to know about a club like this with history. Now it has moved to a better location, still in Shekou though, and embraced its “opening” last week. However, its still keeps its mission – Joining expats together in the spirit of camaraderie through sports and entertainment. In this article, i would like to talk about its history and its old but special membership systerm.


The Snake Pit is the longest established expatriate bar in China founded in Shekou, over 25 years ago, when it was just a small fishing village. The birth of the Snake Pit was due to China’s first Joint Venture with multi-national oil drilling and rig service companies, which came from as far away as Texas, Scotland and Scandinavia. The most hardened, tough, weather-beaten engineers were sent over to start drilling in the South China Sea in the mid 80s.

When arriving onshore after spending many days or weeks out at sea the men returned to Shekou with nowhere to go and nothing to do except hang out at the only noodle stand in town where they smoked all the cigarettes, and drank all the beer they could find. Naturally, after several unsightly episodes the local police, China Merchants (the land owner of much of the area), the oil companies themselves and even CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corp, headquartered in Beijing) admitted something had to be done for these workers.
Thus the South China’s legendary Snake Pit was born in March of 1987 in what is now known as Bar Street. One of the founding members, “Steal” George was renowned for his antics – he would remove his glass eye and put it on the bar and say “watch my beer while I’m away” as he went to the bathroom. The Pit was always full of colorful characters such as him in its early years.
The Snake Pit started off as a members’ only club. It remains a member club today, open to all – from oilmen, teachers, businessmen and women to frequent travelers to Shekou or the mainland. All are welcome to come and see where it all began, sit and have a drink, talk about sports, life, China or your hometown. We’re sure you’ll want to take advantage of the many benefits of becoming a member of the longest running expat club in China. Just a few rules to keep in mind: No talking on one’s phone while inside (or a round of drinks for everyone at the bar is announced with a ringing of the bell for the offence). No ties – wear an old one you don’t care for anymore and see what happens to it – or just come to see where many ties over the past two decades have ended up that have passed through the doors of The Snake Pit. Not a member? Don’t worry, guests are encouraged to come.

Times have changed and the Snake Pit is now in the center of Shekou, with easy access to the Metro. The Pit is known as The Shekou Sports and Social Club which is now more family orientated and is the home to many clubs and organizations such as The Shekou Hash House Harriers, Snake Pit Sitting Hash, Shekou Rugby Club, and The Chubby Riders, just to name a few. The Club also raises donations by holding charity events to help local orphanages, schools and hospitals. It is from the wild beginnings of those most hardened, tough, weather-beaten engineers and their wild ways 25 years ago to what it is today – a pillar of the local community, having a membership of over 5,000 from 52 different countries. So come check out where it all began, Welcome!

About Membership Systerm (Q&A)

1. Is it a private club that only host members?

Everyone is welcome to come to visit and check it out.  You can also plan your own party or activities here if you want, just contact manager for more details.

2. What’s the difference of members or non-members?

As a member you have priority of holding your own private gathering or parties or other activities and if you add money to your member card you can also get 15% to 25% cash bonus to enjoy  a cheaper price. We often hold different activities and provide free drinks or food to members only.

None members can enjoy everything in the bar with normal price but for special parties you have to pay for the food or drinks while members are free of charge.

3. How can I become a member?

700RMB you will be able to start your journey. There will be a forever membership charge and a Snake Pit T-Shit. Every year the T-shirt has different designs.  All together will be 350, you will have the rest 350 go directly to your member card which you can use it as a cash card to buy stuff in the Snake Pit. When you finish the money you can recharge it.

There will be also a small ceremony going on, that you have to try one shot of our Snake liquor (Vodka with real Snake inside), It is fresh and taste yummy, at least some members said that.

Materials are provied by Rica/ Eited by Vera