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Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 7 months ago


Lower class entertainment


The upper classes of Shanghainese tend to go in for much the same amusements as the foreign population (q.v.), as they are able to afford it. Amusement arcades such as the “Great World” are also popular, especially amongst the middle classes. To take part in “modern” diversions carries a certain cachet. For those without the money for clubs and riding or arcades and sing-song girls, however, the more traditionally Chinese forms of entertainment hold sway.

In their free time, the lower class Chinese of Shanghai often go out to teahouses or bathhouses to relax, or visit the homes of friends. Gambling is popular, particularly the card game puke (the name derives from "poker") and mah jongg.


Teahouses provide a relaxed place to chat, gamble or listen to storytellers. Street corners are the venue for a variety of entertainments for the poor. Shanghai is full of all kinds of itinerant entertainers. Street entertainment is available at any time, no ticket is needed, and the entertainers only collect donations after the show. Wandering entertainers can be found anywhere in the commercial districts and crowded working class districts, but gather at a few popular spots in particular.


Because of the number of entertainers who regularly perform on the Rue Hennequin in the French Concession, it is nicknamed "the Great World of Subei", suggesting that it is the equivalent of the Great World amusement centre for the city's poor. Also in the French Concession, a few blocks southeast of the Bridge of the Eight Immortals (Baxianqiao  八仙橋), is the largest open-air entertainment area in Shanghai. The streets running off the Rue Soeur Allegre, Rue de Peres, Rue de Saigon and others are full of popular amusements. You can find storytelling, comic dialogues, conjuring, magic shows, puppet plays, swordplay, tightrope walking, animal fighting, fortune telling, qigong shows, sword swallowing, fire eating, monkey shows, freak shows and various types of drama. Almost all the kinds of entertainment you might find in the more fashionable amusement centres can be found here, as well as the more lower class diversions which are unavailable in upmarket areas.

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