Correspondents: Shanghai Shenanigans
Story and Photos by Michael Seibert
Want to see lots of concrete, get lost in a taxi, see elderly men waltzing and ingest more smoke than your eyes or lungs can handle? Visit Shanghai! In early June, Shanghai also celebrated its first Pride event, so there's even a growing gay reason to visit. This Pride was the largest gay and lesbian community event on the Chinese mainland ever. Although it was mildly dampened by police involvement, it is still considered a major success and milestone.
My recent trip started off with a burning desire to witness the Lai Lai Dance Hall (2/F 235 An-guo Road, near Zhou-jia-zui Road; Hong-kou District), which I luckily found with the help of the taxi driver. Once you find the building, you have to dart through a Karaoke Lounge -- there was only one singer who was her own audience at the time -- and up some dingy steps to get to the Dance Hall.
Emerging from the entrance as the only white guy in the place, I found both young and old gay Chinese men waltzing with each other as multi-colored lights flashed out of sync around them. One, almost bouncing through his dance steps, fanned himself and his overly myopic eyeglasses with a fabulous black lace fan.
It was almost like a high school dance, except that the guys only danced to the slow songs -- translating them into waltzes as they went. When any other song came on, they returned to their tables and thermoses of hot tea. at their tables. If you want to witness a different groove, you will love this place. You won't soon forget the smiling faces on these potentially-married, elderly men enjoying themselves for a short 2 hours from 7-9 on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night with quick 'waltz' with another man.
For a more familiar scene. try Shanghai Studio (1950 Huai-hai Zhong Road, No. 4, near Xing-guo Road; Xu-hui District). But beware, this old bomb shelter is so smoky that your lungs will ache the next day. If you can stand it, they have a 100 RMB all you can drink night on Thursday.
If you're in the area, Eddy’s Bar (1877 Huai-hai Zhong Road, near Tian-ping Road; Xu-hui District) is a must -- better ventilation, small, cozy and great on any night. And if you are a bear, there's a place called Bo Bo’s for you. remember, though, that YOU are a “PANDA” in China. The locals informed me that it is rare to find a "Panda," so you may have to do some hunting if you want your own.
For club dancing with cute boys, visit the popular disco, D2 (505 Zhong Shan Road South, near Fu Xin Road; Huang-pu District), in Pudong on a packed Saturday, but skip Friday.
A short bus ride to Zhujiajiao (make sure to take the fast bus, not the local), the "Chinese Venice," is worth the half-day trip. Sip on some hot tea and shell peanuts along the waterway and then head back to Shanghai for the evening fun.
On a final note, visit The Bund -- the old colonial neighborhood -- in the morning if you can get up really early and watch the women dance with each other with Pudong in the background.
Dr. Michael Seibertis part of Out Traveler.com's international team of Correspondents, reporting from around the world on items of LGBT travel interest. If you would like to become a Correspondent, e-mail us here after checking out our guidelines.