Shanghai: Heritage at the Crossroads of Cultures
- Open Access
Building Shanghai’s Dreamworld: Architects and Elite Ballroom Designs of the 1920s and 1930s
Built Heritage volume 3, pages 34–48 (2019)
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most of these ballrooms still exist and many of their original features are still intact, although the dancing has been superseded by other activities such as wedding banquets, conferences, and even the stock exchange.
Cressey, Paul. (1931) 2008. The Taxi-Dance Hall: A Sociological Study in Commercialized Recreation. Reprint, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Day, Ruth. 1936. Shanghai 1935. Claremont CA: Saunders Studio Press.
Dodington, Spencer, and Charles Lagrange. 2014. Shanghai’s Art Deco Master: Paul Veysseyre’s Architecture in the French Concession. Hong Kong: Earnshaw Books.
Erenberg, Lewis A. 1981. Steppin’Out: New York Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture. University of Chicago Press.
Farrer, James, and Andrew Field. 2015. Shanghai Nightscapes: A Nocturnal Biography of a Global City. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Fei, Huo. 1935. “Daduhui huayuan wuting.” [The Metropole Gardens Ballroom.] Zhongguo Jianzhu [The Chinese Architect], Sept.: 18–30.
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.
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.
Field, Andrew. 2010. Shanghai’s Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics, 1919–1954. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press.
French, Hilary. 2015. “Glamorous Spaces: Public Ballrooms and Dance Halls, 1890–1950.” Interiors 6 (1): 41–57.
Hibbard, Peter. 2013. Peace at the Cathay. Hong Kong: Earnshaw Books.
Mumford, Kevin. 1997. Interzones: Black/White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century. New York: Columbia University Press.
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.
Nott, James. 2018. “Dance Halls: Towards and Architectural and Spatial History, c. 1918–65.” Architectural History 61: 205–233.
Smith, Whitey. (1958) 2017. I Didn’t Make a Million: How Jazz Came to China. Reprint, Hong Kong: Earnshaw Books.
About this article
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
- China entertainment culture
- urban design
- Shanghai interwar ballrooms
- dancing society