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Entertainment & Nightlife in Shanghai


Fueled equally by expatriates and an increasingly adventurous population of locals, Shanghai boasts an active and diverse nightlife. Shanghai lacks the sort of performing-arts scene one would expect from a city its size, but it's getting there. Things like acrobatics are solely of interest to tourists; however, traditional forms of Chinese opera remain popular with older citizens and are even enjoying a resurgence among young people.

Places to Unwind


Shanghai's many large movie cinemas screen a wide variety of films, from Hollywood blockbusters to Chinese epics. Also, various organisations show movies that do not get as much press with English or Chinese subtitles. The Cine Club de l’Alliance shows French films with Chinese subtitles, and the German Consulate Auditorium features German films. Judy’s Too shows movies on Mondays. For Hollywood blockbusters and the latest Chinese films, look into the Paradise Theatre in Changning or the Majestic Theatre. The Shanghai Film Art Centre also has a good selection.

Performing Arts

If you are looking for a musical performance, Shanghai will not disappoint. The Shanghai Grand Theatre, Majestic Theatre and Shanghai Centre Theatre provide high quality facilities to enjoy a performance. Less formally, Jing'an Chamber Music offers weekly chamber music concerts every Sunday evening at the Jing'an Hotel.

Several of the city's venues showcase dance performances. The Shanghai Grand Theatre, often hosts international acts, while the Shanghai Stadium, Majestic Theatre and Grand Theatre at People's Square also provide sites for cultural performances big and small.

The acrobatics, bright costumes and high pitched vocals of Chinese traditional opera are truly part of the Chinese cultural experience. First time patrons are recommended to prepare themselves before giving it a go, as it is a highly stylised art form full of symbolism that will not be readily apparent to the uninitiated. It is recommended to read up on traditional opera, pack an open mind, and make sure you see a performance with English subtitles to ensure a pleasant experience. Venues to try for Chinese opera include the Yi Fu Theatre or the fabulous and historic Great World Entertainment Centre.

Live Music

The Shanghai live music scene is well developed, with plenty of big and small venues offering a variety of styles of music. The much celebrated Cotton Club has live jazz and blues nightly and attracts international talent. Surprisingly intimate, the JZ Club in Xuhui also has great live jazz. The space below Madame Zung's has been taken up by B:lo, which hosts a variety of modern, rock and alternative music plus a fun dance floor. Most bars along Mao Ming Nan Lu host rock cover bands Friday and Saturday nights.

Shanghai's pre-revolutionary jazz legacy has been revived for the 21st century: Not only are the old standards being played once again, but more modern and improvisational sounds can also be heard around town, and there's a greater influx of international jazz artists to these shores than ever before. Hotel lounges and bars are the most obvious venues for jazz performances, though what you get here is mostly easy-listening jazz. Once a year, the jazz scene perks up with the Shanghai Jazz Festival in mid-October, which draws headline artists and groups from America, Europe, Japan, and Australia. During the rest of the year, live jazz can be heard at the reviewed entries.

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