Skip to main content

Volume 3 Supplement 3

Shanghai: Heritage at the Crossroads of Cultures

Building Shanghai’s Dreamworld: Architects and Elite Ballroom Designs of the 1920s and 1930s

Abstract

Using historical records from the period including newspapers and architectural journals, this paper examines seven ballrooms built in Shanghai between the 1920s and 1930s. These ballrooms were all designed by leading architects and reflect their ambitions and visions in creating fantastical spaces for the city’s elites to celebrate their status while socializing with other members of high society. Their technological features include sprung dance floors, sophisticated lighting schemes, and other technical wizardry to enhance the experience of dancing and being entertained. One ballroom was in the style of a traditional Chinese palace, highlighting the connection to earlier forms of culture in China. Today most of these ballrooms still exist and many of their original features are still intact, although the dancing has been superseded by other activities such as wedding banquets, conferences, and even the stock exchange.

References

  1. Cressey, Paul. (1931) 2008. The Taxi-Dance Hall: A Sociological Study in Commercialized Recreation. Reprint, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  2. Day, Ruth. 1936. Shanghai 1935. Claremont CA: Saunders Studio Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Dodington, Spencer, and Charles Lagrange. 2014. Shanghai’s Art Deco Master: Paul Veysseyre’s Architecture in the French Concession. Hong Kong: Earnshaw Books.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Erenberg, Lewis A. 1981. Steppin’Out: New York Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture. University of Chicago Press.

  5. Farrer, James, and Andrew Field. 2015. Shanghai Nightscapes: A Nocturnal Biography of a Global City. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  6. Fei, Huo. 1935. “Daduhui huayuan wuting.” [The Metropole Gardens Ballroom.] Zhongguo Jianzhu [The Chinese Architect], Sept.: 18–30.

  7. Field, Andrew David, and James, Farrer. 2018. “China’s Party Kings: Shanghai Club Cultures and Status Consumption, 1920s–2010s.” In Polarized Cities: Portraits of Rich and Poor in Urban China, edited by Dorothy J. Solinger, 127–148. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Field, Andrew. 2008. “From D.D’s to Y.Y. to Park 97 to Muse: Dance Club Spaces and the Construction of Class in Shanghai, 1997–2007.” China: An International Journal 6 (1): 18–43.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Field, Andrew. 2010. Shanghai’s Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics, 1919–1954. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. French, Hilary. 2015. “Glamorous Spaces: Public Ballrooms and Dance Halls, 1890–1950.” Interiors 6 (1): 41–57.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Hibbard, Peter. 2013. Peace at the Cathay. Hong Kong: Earnshaw Books.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Mumford, Kevin. 1997. Interzones: Black/White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Nott, James. 2015. Going to the Palais: A Social and Cultural History of Dancing and Dance Halls in Britain, 1918–1960. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  14. Nott, James. 2018. “Dance Halls: Towards and Architectural and Spatial History, c. 1918–65.” Architectural History 61: 205–233.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Smith, Whitey. (1958) 2017. I Didn’t Make a Million: How Jazz Came to China. Reprint, Hong Kong: Earnshaw Books.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrew Field.

Rights and permissions

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Field, A. Building Shanghai’s Dreamworld: Architects and Elite Ballroom Designs of the 1920s and 1930s. Built Heritage 3, 34–48 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/BF03545742

Download citation

Keywords

  • China entertainment culture
  • architecture
  • urban design
  • Shanghai interwar ballrooms
  • dancing society