No, Shanghaiist isn’t talking about xanadu or China’s “rediscovered” Shangri-La. And, we are definitely not referring to the Tongren Lu establishment that just opened (no offense, but Tongren sucks!). Anyone who reads Danwei (or China Daily) knows that “lala” is a synonym for lesbians. So, welcome to the long-awaited post on Shanghai’s lala land.
Some gay men reading this might be scratching their heads right now and saying to themselves, “What lesbian scene?” Despite all the alternative lifestyle friends’ Shanghaiist has, we have to admit it was a bit difficult to uncover the local lesbian society. Part of the reason is that it’s pretty underground compared to Taiwan, where they have an annual gay parade, or even in Beijing where they have screened two homosexual film festivals (though rumor has it some people were arrested at the first one).
In Shanghai, the only lesbian hangout is Max Club near Hengshan Lu and, technically, it’s not really a lala bar … it’s actually a pub that hosts a lesbian night every Saturday. Previously, the party moved around to different locations each week, but it’s primarily been at Max for a while now. Guests can expect to pay a 30 RMB cover for ladies and 60 RMB for men, which includes a tepid beer.
Max was full of young Chinese lesbians, peppered with a few middle-aged old men when we visited. (There are lots of theories on these men, including fake escorts for the women, lecherous guys hoping to get lucky with a lala couple, or a hetero couple looking for a threesome). The classic divider for Chinese lalas is T, tomboys, or P, lao po/wife/femme — and there was mix of both present. A small dance floor had a decent amount of people grooving, but most were engrossed in drinking games or their PSPs. Although there wasn’t much excitement the night we were there, according to friends, Max has its fair share of catfights and has even hosted a wedding or two. However, most of the action happens before 11 pm as many of the youthful patrons have a curfew and/or need to take public transport back to thier dorms or family homes.
These special ladies’ nights are hosted by an organization called Butterfly, or hudie in Chinese, made up of local lesbians. Unfortunately, they don’t have a website but, if you stop by the club you can get on their SMS list and find out their ICQ number to keep in touch.
There is another major faction in the Shanghai lesbian world called Lesinshanghai. They are an informal group of foreign lesbians who are connected through Yahoo Groups. To get on the listserve, you need to meet with a member in Shanghai as they only allow queer woman to join. Talented, organization members have put together a few, short videos capturing the lala life. Shanghaiist was privy to a screening of episode three at Arch. The movies are part of a private collection and give an intimate glimpse into a group not widely “seen” in Shanghai.
Besides Max, there are a few bars in town that have lesbian or LBGT nights. Frangipani is the place to be on Tuesdays and Mint has a good turnout from the lesbian community on Thursdays. Rumor has it that lalas frequent Velvet Lounge as well. If you know of any other places, please email Shanghaiist at shanghaifaghag at gmail.com.
Finally, if you have trouble meeting women at the local watering holes or through the groups, there is always internet dating! See here (Chinese only) or here or, of course, Shanghaiist Personals.
In other brief gay news
- Here’s a humorous account of a Beijing lala experience.
- As promised, Shanghai’s No. 1 fag hag got a glimpse of Home and Bar, now rechristened Pinkhome, at their super soft debut. Just open for that one night, they will be closed until they have the second floor restaurant/lounge and the hotel finished. Shanghaiist reserves the right to give a full review once the place is totally open. But, to let you in on a little secret, we’ve already signed up for our VIP card online!
Max Club, 16 Wulumuqi Nan Lu (near of Hengshan Lu). 乌鲁木齐南路16号(衡山路口), Tel:13524486584.
Photo from shuebox.