It’s 10pm on a Friday night in December and Shanghai’s temperatures are plummeting. Along the winding streets of the Former French Concession, late-night commuters rush to catch the last trains home or bundle up in multi-layerd coats atop their scooters. For nearly everyone in the city, it seems, the night has come to an end.
But on 115 Xinfu road, life is just beginning to stir. Outside of what looks like a dilapidated alleyway tarnished with graffitti, the youngsters of Shanghai’s undeground scene come out of the shadows. They smoke outside of the inner city warehouse littered with tattered couches, exposed brick walls and amateur grafitti. This is Dada, a club that has joined the skimpy ranks of scattered spaces in a 25 million people city where an unhranassed creative energy is palpable and anything goes.
Students and techno heads gather to dance and make friends in this cavernous space that feels oceans away from Xi Jinping’s people. A space like Dada should never have existed in a place like Shanghai; yet somehow, it’s been flourishing for ten years.