48-Hour Party People: In Shanghai, a Retro-Cool Carousal
A few days ago, Kick the Gong Around hosted a two-day vintage festival in a former Shinto temple located in Shanghai’s Hongkou District, the former Jewish Quarter. Dotted with what remains of the city’s prewar buildings, the neighborhood is an incredible Art Deco relic and perfectly suited for our style of retro event. Much to our delight and surprise, more than two thousand kids showed up, filling the venue to capacity and creating an hour-long queue that stretched around the block.
Rather unwittingly, we’d tapped into a big market: young Chinese hipsters, or “chipsters,” as they’ve affectionately become known. As a reaction to the daunting pressures of modern-day Chinese society, many kids have started embracing art, design, poetry, nostalgia, and, best of all, unusual clothes that smell like your grandmother’s house. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the girls who have spearheaded this movement and have the real appetite for spending. Unlike their male counterparts, these ladies don’t feel pressured to be armed with an apartment before they get married, and they now want to spend their money on independent designers rather than expensive luxury goods.
We spent two days decorating the three-floor space in a vintage carnival style: colorful garlands, shiny handcrafted chandeliers, and a real carousel horse featured next to a stage for live music. The first floor had a variety of attractions and clothing sellers. Meanwhile, two tarot readers were hidden behind a mysterious veil with a live sketch artist. Gypsy accordion players, a clown, magicians, palm readers, tarot card readers, and an odd variety of country fair games were also included. Live folk music was laid on by my band, The Horde, who’d dressed up as waiters from TGI Fridays for the occasion (don’t ask me why). Two days to remember!
Photos: Courtesy of George Wyndham