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Shanghai’s Nightlife Is Now a Shadow of Its Former Self

Shanghai’s Nightlife Is Now a Shadow of Its Former Self

Too busy to get your daily dose of RADII? We got you every Tuesday with a summary of all the freshest takes on China’s youth culture in the last week.

  • The two-month citywide lockdown was a gut punch to Shanghai’s nightlife scene. But despite closures and financial struggles, some found a reason to stay.
  • Some Chinese social media users hope the appearance of Daniel Wu can turn 'Westworld' around after its last two seasons, which bewildered some viewers.
  • Since premiering on June 24, China’s newest box office hit, Lighting Up The Stars, is well on its way to becoming one of the country’s highest-grossing films this year.
  • From video projections on monumental screens to a digital concert accessible via a physical stretch of Hong Kong, these ‘phygital’ artworks blur the boundaries between the tangible and the intangible.

Intrigued? Keep scrolling, my friend.

Shanghai’s (Once Vibrant) Nightlife Is Now a Shadow of Its Former Self

Two completely different scenes before and after lockdown: Crowds of customers in front of The Drinkery versus a lone bartender waiting to serve takeaway customers. Images courtesy of The Drinkery

Into the Night is a monthly series exploring China’s vibrant nightlife scene and the roster of young people that make parties in the country so damn fun. This month, we explore how Shanghai nightlife has suffered as a result of the city’s recent Covid-19 lockdown.

Surrounded by piles of stools and empty tables, Ilya Khokhlov sits at the bar counter while busily chatting with a pair of handymen. “We were closed for over two months, so we have to deal with a minor mold issue,” he says, pointing at a concrete wall.

However, mold on the walls is far from The Drinkery’s biggest threat to survival. Khoklov’s bar in Shanghai’s central Huangpu district has been nearly crippled by the city’s recent lockdown.

One of the most heavily affected industries during Shanghai’s lockdown throughout April and May, the food and beverage (F&B) sector is still floundering; neither closed nor fully open, many businesses are still stuck in limbo.

After the lockdown was lifted in some parts of Shanghai on June 1, restaurants and cafes were only allowed to open for takeout. And since Wednesday, June 29, select F&B outlets have been permitted to gradually resume dine-in services.

However, citizens who are not fans of dining out and miss boozy nights and sweaty dancefloors will have to wait longer since clubs are not prioritized in the gradual opening.

Olivia Xing only decided to pursue a performing arts degree after a death in her family. Her father had suddenly died of a heart attack in the summer of her freshman year.

As a Chinese student studying at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, United States, Xing had initially signed up for a double major in comparative literature and French. After her father’s death, however, the Chinese youth realized it was the time to pursue her dream.

“Life is ephemeral, and so is theater,” muses Xing, “The passing of my father made me realize that he was never able to do what he dreamed of doing — become a traveling singer, and I don’t want to have the same regret.”

  • A nationalistic netizen has pointed out that Apple’s failed R&D of 5G modem chips is advantageous for Chinese manufacturers.
  • The rapper MC HotDog’s sexualized shout-outs to high-profile female celebrities in his latest track have sparked a heated debate on Chinese social media.
  • Tencent announced a new AAA-level title, Code: To Jin Yong, based on the works of Chinese wuxia writer Jin Yong. The game will likely compete with the highly-anticipated ‘Black Myth: Wukong,’ another upcoming title based on Chinese myths and characters.
  • It’s been rough times of late for Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M, as most recently demonstrated by the closure of the brand’s first Chinese mainland location.
  • Xining, a socioculturally peripheral city in China’s Northwest, is the place to catch the latest Chinese indie films. After all, it is the site of FIRST International Film Festival, the biggest indie film festival in the nation. Deemed ‘China’s Sundance,’ the festival champions rising filmmakers — with one entry from a 17-year-old filmmaker this year.

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