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January 16, 2013

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Jazzy plan for Paramount revamp

JING'AN District plans to turn the iconic Paramount Hall into a modern entertainment venue for jazz music lovers, officials said yesterday.

Once one of the most famous dance halls in the world, officials want to restore it to its former glory.

World-renowned architect Ieoh Ming Pei and Hong Kong designer Alan Chan will be invited to design the new Paramount jazz center, an official surnamed Han with the cultural bureau of Jing'an District told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

"If the Lincoln Center in New York is called the center for Western Jazz, then the new Paramount in Shanghai will become that for Eastern Jazz music," said Chen Chao, deputy director of Shanghai Library and leader of the restoration project.

More than 20 famous jazz bands from both home and abroad will perform in the hall every year, according to the plan.

As it is still in the planning stages, no details were released about how much it will cost or how long the restoration work will take.

Apart from an expansive dance floor, the Paramount will also have a cinema and a restaurant, according to the plan.

Paramount Hall was built in 1933 and for years was the biggest entertainment venue in the city. It was popular among celebrities from both home and abroad. Fans of the venue included poet Xu Zhimo and famous general Zhang Xueliang. The engagement ceremony of American Claire Lee Chennault, captain of the renowned Flying Tigers, and his wife Anna Chennault was held in the hall.

The hall is presently open daily between 1pm and 4:30pm mainly for dancing. Tickets are 40 yuan (US$6.43) on weekdays and 80 yuan on weekends.

After the renovation, the hall will open daily from 10am to 12:30am, according to the Jing'an cultural bureau.

The first floor of the hall will have a permanent exhibition about the history of local culture.

The main dance hall will still be on the second floor.

The third floor will feature a VIP lounge, cigar bar, cinema and an uspcale restaurant that will serve both French and Shanghainese cuisine.

Dance competitions will also be held regularly, as will various activities for students and seniors.

"The new Paramount must combine tradition with modern elements to revive its former glory," said Rong Guangrun, former president of the Shanghai Theatre Academy and a member of the panel involved in the restoration project.

The Paramount has undergone several major renovations.

The building was transformed into a theater and shopping mall in 1954. It was renovated in 1990 and 2009.


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