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Shanghai - China
Shanghai lives up to its reputation as China's entertainment capital. With so many things to do and see day and night in the city, it may be hard to choose. Below is a general guide to just some of the ways to have fun and see something new in Shanghai.
Shanghai and its immediate environs support several local artists. Many artists from other parts of the country also come here to exhibit their work in one of the many galleries. ShangART in Xintiandi often exhibits avant-garde works by Chinese artists, while the ArtSPACE features experimental works in Jing'An's M50 Art District.
Shanghai's many large movie theaters screen a wide variety of films, from Hollywood blockbusters to Chinese epics. Also, various organizations 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 Theater in Changning or the Majestic Theater. The Shanghai Film Art Center also has a good selection.
Several of the city's venues showcase dance performances. The Shanghai Grand Theater, a first-class international standard theater, often hosts international acts, while the Shanghai Stadium, Majestic Theater and Grand Theater at People's Square also provide sites for cultural performances big and small.
The Shanghai Art Museum, located at People's Square, is the most visited museum in Shanghai. Designed to look like an ancient Chinese vessel, the museum's modern exterior stands out as a showpiece. The museum features superbly displayed, first-class exhibits of ancient Chinese artifacts and archeological finds with Chinese and English explanations. The scientifically inclined may enjoy the Natural History Museum, which features a curious assortment of dinosaur bones and pickled human remains. While you are at People's Square, check out the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall for a miniature model of the city's design plan for the 2010 World Exhibition. Well worth a visit, especially for those who appreciate history, is the Museum of Public Security. This incredibly frank, thorough, world class museum rivals the Shanghai History Museum in the Oriental Pearl Tower for its number of historical artifacts and creative curating. Also a hit, especially if you are traveling with youngsters, is the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium in Pudong.
If you are looking for a musical performance, Shanghai will not disappoint. The Shanghai Grand Theater, Majestic Theater and Shanghai Center Theater 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.
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.
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 stylized artform 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 Theater or the fabulous and historic Great World Entertainment Center.
The Shanghai Grand Theater and the Shanghai Theater Academy offer modern dramatic theater. Check out their websites or call for the current listings.
One of the breath taking traditional Chinese performance artforms is acrobatics. An added bonus to enjoying an acrobatics show is the lack of a language barrier, so anyone can fully enjoy a show. The Shanghai Acrobatics Troupe is one of the city's most celebrated performance troupes. Acrobatics shows can be found at the Great World Entertainment Center and Shanghai Grand Theater. Another place to enjoy smaller productions is the People’s Art Theater.
Nightlife and Discos
Shanghai's nightlife is so developed that we cannot possibly recommend all the great places that make up a fun night out, but some places stand out as great for dancing. The theatrical Bar Rouge on the Bund and Zapatas, specializing in fishbowl margaritas, are all highly recommended for their dance floors. Still a novelty in China, salsa lovers will enjoy one of the early evening dance classes or late night open dance floor at Salsanova.