Shanghai's Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics, 1919-1954

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Chinese University Press, 2010 - History - 364 pages
"It was thanks to its cabarets that Old Shanghai was called the `Paris of the Orient.' No one has studied the rise and fall of those cabarets more extensively than Andrew Field. His book is packed with fascinating information and attests on every page to his understanding of Shanghai's history." LYNN PAN, author of Sons of the Yellow Emperor

"Books about Old Shanghai routinely refer in passing to the city's legendary cabarets and dance halls. Now, for the first time, historian Andrew Field provides us with a scholarly, accessible and detailed look at these establishments, showing us not just what they meant to globe-trotters and members of the local Chinese and Western elites but also to the people who worked in them. Making use of a dizzying array of familiar and little-known sources, ranging from archival documents to feature films and fiction, his book provides the most comprehensive picture to date of the entertainment venues that played an important role in the development of the most famous---and infamous---of China's treaty ports." JEFFREY N. WASSERSTROM, author of Global Shanghai, 1850-2010 and co-founder of the "China Beat" blog

"In this richly detailed exploration of Shanghai's night life, Andrew Field strips off glamorous cliches to weave together a complex and compelling tale of cabaret culture as a contested space of modernity caught in a constellation of unrelenting and contradictory social, economic and political forces." CHRISTIAN HENRIOT, Senior Fellow, Institut d'Asie Orientale, Institut Universitaire de France

Drawing upon a unique and untapped reservoir of newspapers, magazines, novels, government documents, photographs and illustrations, this book traces the origin, pinnacle, and ultimate demise of a commercial dance industry in Shanghai between the end of the First World War and the early years of the People's Republic of China. Delving deep into the world of cabarets, nightclubs, and elite ballrooms that arose in the city in the 1920s and peaked in the 1930s, the book assesses how and why Chinese society incorporated and transformed this westernized world of leisure and entertainment to suit its own tastes and interests. Focusing on the jazz-age nightlife of the city in its "golden age," the book examines issues of colonialism and modernity, urban space, sociability and sexuality, and modern Chinese national identity formation in a tumultuous era of war and revolution.

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About the author (2010)

Andrew David Field is an independent scholar of Chinese history and culture living and working in Shanghai.

He has taught Chinese history for the University of Puget Sound, University of New South Wales, Dartmouth College, and New York University.

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