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Memories of Paris as city venue brings back the good old days

NIGHTCLUBS these days conjure up a picture of loud music and crowds of young people but a new venue is aiming to bring back the glamor for the city's older, more sophisticated partygoers. Yao Minji reports. Shanghai is famous for its nightlife.

The city has many glittering night clubs featuring trendy partygoers and dance music. Even in this global economic downturn, many new venues are opening in the city and it should be easy for all kinds of partygoers to find a place that fits their needs.

The variety of Shanghai's nightlife will be extended with the opening of Gosney & Kallman's Chinatown, a new venue in Hongkou District, an area currently rather underdeveloped on Shanghai's entertainment map.

Many Chinese movies and novels, set in the 1930s or 1940s, often contain a sense of nostalgia for the legendary good old days of Shanghai during that time.

Described as the "Paris of the East," Shanghai was said to have the best fashion, clubs, parties and partygoers.

Movies such as "Shanghai Triad" tried to represent the legend - dozens of pretty singers and dancers putting on entertaining, multi-layered, colorful and popular shows every night in gracefully decorated venues with private VIP rooms.

These kind of shows, like a Chinese version of Moulin Rouge, have been long gone in Shanghai and it is difficult to find a show of such scale in the city these days. Most of the Shanghai's night venues attract the younger generation with DJ culture and dance parties. Such singing and dancing shows are considered legends of the past.

"We want to bring a style of nightclub popular in the world to China. It's a style of light performances, authentic entertainment and gorgeous costumes. It is fun for our customers to enter the different world in Chinatown from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai streets," says Anna Patterson, general manager and co-owner of the new venue.

Due to open next month, Chinatown will provide vivacious dance and variety performances every Wednesday to Saturday after 8pm. Choreographed by Matt Mohr, New York's premier producer of off-Broadway and burlesque theater, the show combines Cabaret, Moulin Rouge, Neo-Vaudeville, Broadway and Classic Vegas performed by a chorus line of extravagantly costumed showgirls.

The shows will also include traditional Chinese performing elements such as acrobatics and traditional Chinese songs. Patterson also says that they will invite flamboyant musicians and specialty acts from all over the world.

Singer Frank Bray will be the resident performer. The shows will be predominantly in English but with witty cross-cultural references as the target of Chinatown "is both expatriates and local Chinese from the more sophisticated over-30-year-old group."

The building, originally built as a Hindu temple in 1931, had been empty for a while before Chinatown owners found it.

The exterior hasn't been changed much from its original appearance. The white bricks make it stand out from adjacent buildings in the small street. The delicate embossments of religious items such as the lotus and cranes are not only decorative, but also a unique indication of the building's original use.

Chinatown is just three blocks from Shanghai's famous Bund waterfront, and within minutes walking distance from the nostalgic 1933. The interior of the former temple, completely renovated by Chinatown organizers, shimmers in rich ruby tones and dark woods, with brilliant gold balconies and velvet drapes.

The three-story club can seat up to 400 people, making it an appropriate space where all audiences can see the performances on the main stage quite clearly. The first floor, where the stage and the main bar are, is an open space with no cover charge.

The second floor, or the balcony level, consists of seven exclusive booths like those balcony seats in old opera houses. The booths are also equipped with curtains that guests can choose to close for private occasions. And the third is a private mini bar looking right over the stage.

Its first event is a live performance - Rolf Becker Swings Back into Shanghai. Resident singer Frank Bray will also be a guest performer at the show.

Date: September 20

Address: 471 Zhapu Rd

Tickets: 680 yuan

Tel: 6258-2078


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