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, the night has yet to begin. Outside of what looks like a dilapidated alleyway tarnished with graffitti in an otherwise spotless city, some of Shanghai’s coolest youth smoke outside the most popular underground night club, Dada. An inner city warehouse with tattered couches, exposed brick walls and amateur grafitti, Dada has joined the ranks of rare spaces in a 25 million people city where an unhranassed creative energy is palpable and anything goes.
Students and techno heads gather to drink, dance and make friends in this cavernous space that feels oceans away from any central government. A space like Dada should never have existed in a place like Shanghai. Yet, somehow, it’s been flourishing for ten years.