Shanghai Travel Essentials: Gay & Lesbian Shanghai
Shanghai Gay & Lesbian Scene
By ChinaMango - personalized tour guide service
As the Beijing Getaways: Shanghai Guide puts it, Shanghai is "loved as the Paris of the East or reviled as the Whore of the Orient." Whichever side of Shanghai (and yourself) you want to explore, you will undoubtedly be surprised by this city 'on the sea', (the meaning of 'Shanghai' in Chinese).
A little scratching beneath the cosmopolitan surface of gleaming steel and concrete skyscrapers worthy even of Manhattan, elevated highways and world-class restaurants and shopping malls, reveals a busy and diverse night-life. This overview just gives a taste of what it's like, but cannot do full justice to all that's going on, and all that's changing, in one of the world's largest cities.
The Shanghainese are known for their 'cute' looks compared with their sturdier brothers up North, and laughed at for being hen-pecked. That adds even more spice to your visit as you look out for the well-dressed and manicured young professionals busily walking along commercial areas like Huaihai Lu in Puxi, or Lujiazui in Pudong, or tourist groups and romantic couples strolling along the Bund.
In fact, because there are so many migrant workers from other areas of China, several million out of the 18 million total population, and because Shanghai has the highest per capita GDP in China, you will be able to admire a whole range of pretty faces and pretty body shapes and sizes - honed by hours and hours working out in some very cruisy gyms. They come from all over China, which is as large as a whole continent. And increasingly, there are young faces from overseas looking for jobs away from their recession-hit home countries.
Shanghai has a long history of exposure to the West - just look at the buildings on the Bund or the tree-lined boulevards in the French concession, or the modern skyscrapers in Pudong - and so is more accepting of all things foreign, and that probably also includes foreign men.
The LGBT scene is growing rapidly, and was boosted by the first Shanghai Pride held recently in June 2009. As the official English language newspaper China Daily put it, "the largest festival of the gay and lesbian community on the Chinese mainland is a good showcase of the country's social progress alongside the three decades of economic boom....Shanghai Pride 2009 should be a source of great encouragement to the tens of millions of "comrades", as homosexual men and women are called on the Chinese mainland..."
It should also be a source of encouragement to the numerous foreign visitors to Shanghai in search of some fun. Of course, not everyone is a potato queen, but you can try your luck with some of the tens of millions - well, OK, hundreds - of comrades at Eddys Bar, Shanghai Studio and/or Transit Lounge, all within walking distance in the French Concession 'gaybourhood'.
You can even stock up on some sexy underwear at Manifesto. Nearer the Bund is another popular bar, Frangipani, and after that it's a quick hop, skip and jump, for late night clubbers, to go on to Dee Two Club ( D2). Beware that as the local Shanghainese get more affluent and sophisticated, you may face an 'attitude' problem from the more snobbish crowd, reminiscent of the pretty faces you sometimes meet on the Hong Kong scene.
For those more into the water sports, there is a new upscale sauna, Studio 2006, near to Shanghai Studio (closed Mondays). The more established but older sauna, Ding Lin Men's Club, is near the railway station. It is the largest in Shanghai and attracts a slightly more mature crowd than Studio 2006.
And for those of you into the outdoor scene, there are places but be careful of course as in any other large city in a developing country! One popular spot for locals is the People's Park at the centrally-located People's Square. Don't forget safe sex at all times, especially as the HIV/AIDS infection rate in the gay population is rising rapidly.
So, in conclusion, come and visit before the crowds come for the World Expo May-Oct 2010. Competition will be stiffer then, but of course, there will probably be many more new places opened up by then. To keep up-to-date with the latest gossip and events, pick up a local English language magazine or check this web site: http://www.cityweekend.com.cn
The above information has been supplied by ChinaMango, a specialized gay and lesbian friendly travel service based in Beijing, offering quality private tour guide services for the discerning traveler.
ChinaMango can offer day and night tours of Beijing, with standard sightseeing spots for the first time visitor, as well as locations off the beaten track. More exotic possibilities include Chinese cookery classes, tai qi lessons, calligraphy and acupuncture, or surrounding places like Tianjin, Chengde (Imperial Summer Resort) and Pingyao (UNESCO World Heritage site), and Xinjiang Province. The program for each client is tailored to his or her needs, and discretion and reliability are assured. ChinaMango does not operate in Shanghai as yet.
For further details contact Jet at jetchina0602[at]hotmail[dot]com or phone 0086 13552 949596
Shanghai Gay Listings
Eddy's Bar, 1877 Huai Hai Zhong Rd, (corner of Tian Ping Rd), tel (021) 6282 0521
Shanghai Studio, 1950 Huai Hai Rd, No. 4, tel 6283 1043
Transit Lounge, 141 Tai An Rd, near Huashan Rd, tel 6283 3051
Manifesto, 1950 Huaihai Rd, No. 4, tel 6294 6880 (underwear shop inside Shanghai Studio)
Frangipani, 399 Dagu Rd, near Shimen Yi Rd, tel 5375 0084
Dee Two Club (D2), 505 Zhong Shan Rd South, the Cooldocks, near Fuxin Rd East (open Wed to Sat), tel 6152 6543
Studio 2006, 1639 Huashan Rd, no.10 or 2006 Huaihai Zhong Rd No. 10 (2 entrances), tel 5230 6916
Ding Lin Men's Club, 775 Yanchang Zhong Rd, tel 6356 4358, 6356 4798.