A thesis about nightlife in Shanghai.

幸怡 2018-12-02 15:15:36

Hello folks,

As shown in the title, currently I am working on my thesis about nightlife in Shanghai.

Many people come into surprises that I choose nightlife as a dissertation topic, especially when they hear that I major in graphic design, a course that sounds miles away from nightlife.

I know. You might think, what can you learn from studying nightlife? How to make cocktails? Using Tinder for dating? Hunting for casual sexes? Flirting with boys and girls? Alright, let’s chill a bit. When I look into academic papers, there are indeed scholars that have studied this topic years ago(Hollands and Chatterton, 2002), whose impact related to city planning, global recognition of the economic significance of the cultural industries(Chew, 2009).


My interest in this topic arises from my previous working experience with a bunch of good buddy of different nationalities in Shanghai that taught me how to drink and dance🙂. The other motive was from a theoretical course I studied last year at my university related to branding a global city, where a lot of people in my course do not know how globalised Shanghai is. (I guess I just defended that graphic design is not only about creativity but also cultural study?)

And, well, yes. Those things that you recall of nightlife do wet edges of my subject.

To clear your tangle, the thesis is focused on how the drinking and clubbing culture, a type of nightlife consumption brought across from the west to the east, becomes now a working-class lifestyle in Shanghai(Farrer, 2009), when once it was a way of showing off one’s capital and an identity of wealthy(Field, 2008). I will also investigate in how these club scenes reflected a fast-paced economy and quickly changing consumer culture of the city as it continues to experiment with new, internationalised forms of culture while creating new class identities out of taste differentials(Field). (I know this one sounds very academic, but you might interpret it as, why there are some people think going to a bar or club to drink alcohol is a cool event but singing in karaokes is odd and outdated these days.)


The other aspect I am going to investigate is how drinking and clubbing culture changes people’s attitudes on relationships and sexual liberation, and how it impacts individualism and materialism on cosmopolitan living amongst Chinese youth. Where some people think of marriage as the best end for their life, other people working and living in cosmopolitan are constantly having datings with new guys and girls through Tinder, finding casual sex in a club, focusing on pleasing their individual pleasures at nightlife places rather than taking the emotional burden on their shoulders from a relationship. (So if you have used Tinder to date with someone(could be a Chinese or people different from your nationality) in a bar, then your experience could become a case to study, as a demonstration integrated partly into my research if you are up for it. (Of course, if you want to be anonymous your name will be muted!)


The period to be studied is from the mid-1990s until the present when the first globalised nightclub D.D.'s near Xingfu and Pingwu Roads(Farrer and Field, 2015). (Does the place sound familiar with you, or your parents?) There are several streets once-well-known on bars and clubsin Shanghai will become my key case studies. For example, Maoming Lu(famous from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s), Xintiandi and The Bund(famous from 2000 - early 2010), and of course, the once beloved Yong Kang Lu(famous from 2010 until 2016). I will focus on the development in these places and look at how it reflects cultural globalisation has shaped the urban scene in Shanghai as well.


Therefore, I am writing here, sincerely, to ask for your help.I am looking for materials aboutnightlife in Shanghai from the mid-1990s until the present to research. They may be, but not limited to:

Visual materials that document clubs and bars, nightlife events in Shanghai, for example:






Literature pieces on cosmopolitan life in Shanghai, for example:

Novels(non-fiction or fiction),



Agents working in clubs and bars:




People who study and create works on nightlife in Shanghai:




Fine artists or contemporary artists.

Places that archive urban development of Shanghai:


Archive Center,


If you or your friends might know, by any chance, of any resources I just mentioned above, please feel free to put them into a comment below or📧me at

hi.xingyiou@gmail.com . Also, if you are up for an interview, your story or your friends’, parents’ and colleges’ ones of nightlife experience in Shanghai may help to accommodate the research.

I tried not to make this advert sounds too academic, and I hope it sounds exciting to you🌝.

Also please feel free to share this post on your social media if you want to get more of your friends to know! Certainly, if the right moment comes I would like to offer you acoffeeor a drink in return for your help:)

Thank you for your patience reading through to the end, I wish you have a great week and let’s chat soon.

Shakes & Hugs,


There is a Chinese version of the advert available here “一篇关于上海夜生活的毕业论文”. If you want to share it with your Chinese friends, please do.


1. Farrer, J. and Field, D. A., (2015) Shanghai Nightscapes: A Nocturnal Biography of a Global City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

2. Farrer, J. (2009) ‘Shanghai Bars’ in Chinese Sociology & Anthropology, 42:2, 22-38. Available at: https://www. tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2753/CSA0009-4625420201 (Accessed: 24Oct,2018)

3. Field, A. (2008) ‘From D.D’s to Y.Y. to Park 97 to Muse: Dance Club Spaces and the Construction of Class in Shanghai, 1997-2007’ in China: An International Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, March 2008, pp. 18-43 Available at: https:// muse.jhu.edu/article/233258 (Accessed: 27 Oct, 2018)

4. Matthew M. Chew. (2009) ‘Research on Chinese Nightlife Cultures and Night-Time Economies’, Chinese Sociology & Anthropology, 42(2), pp. 3-2. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2753/CSA0009-4625420200 (Accessed: 20 Oct, 2018)

5. Hollands, R. and Chatterton, P. (2002) Therosing Urban Playscapes Producing, Regulating and Consuming Youthful Nightlife City Spaces Urban Studies, 39 (1): 95-116

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