December 9, 2008

2008 in Pictures: Part 6

shelter 036

shelter 044

Date Taken: February 3rd, 2008

Well you might as well get used to seeing photos of DJs, because that's what the majority of my music-related sets contain :-) I feel I really got into the local music scene here, well at least as much as one can with my discerning (some might say elitist) tastes, general laziness, and dislike for going out during the week. The above photo was, I think, the first time I was ever at the Shelter. Void brought Jason Hodges to town , and he rocked it with some great funky house.

The first photo shows, in a really blurry fashion, the most interesting part of the venue. You see, the Shelter actually is a converted bomb shelter. It's underground and at the end of a long (and, might I add, low-ceilinged -- ouch!!) tunnel. The main room is pretty standard, but the back room is interesting. It's divided into three sections lengthwise. Down the middle section is just a hallway lined with tables and chairs. On either side of that, though, are rooms with arched ceilings (which again, are very low) in which comfortable couches and tables have been placed. It's great because you can sit back there with friends or when you're tired, but you can still hear the music.

The second photo is actually of a TV monitor, one of two, that help mitigate the fact that there's a support column smack-dab in front of the DJ booth. So your line of sight to the DJ is really impaired. The club designers thoughtfully helped out by providing these monitors. These monitors also helped me a lot by allowing me to take videos of the DJ playing . (The DJ booth itself is pretty dark, and my camera doesn't have a light.)

I remember the night before that party, I went out with the Void kids for dinner in Puxi. It was quite a haul from my office, but I managed to get there okay. We ate at Xin Ji Shi /Jesse's, a famous(ly small and crowded) Shanghainese place. It was Jason's first time in Shanghai, and I'd only been there like a month, so we talked a lot about our first impressions. I also met some French guy and a couple other regulars I'd end up seeing again at future parties. What sucked was that I had a nightmare of a time getting a cab home at about 10:30. I spent about 45 minutes walking up and down Huaihai Lu, stepping through sleet and wet pavement, past frustratingly-closed metro stations, cursing my fragile umbrella for continually getting blown out by the ice-cold wind, and looking for that godsend of a green-light taxi. Finally I found one, I jumped in the back, and stated my destination. I don't think the cab driver wanted to go that far to Pudong, because he started saying something to me. Then a girl walked up to his window and, I think, tried to convince him to ditch me in favor of her destination, which was closer. But if this is indeed what happened, I remained blissfully unaware since I didn't understand what either of them was saying. However I like to think that the cab driver told her "Look, I'd like to help you out, but I've got this lao wai back here who won't understand me if I tell him to leave, and it's too much trouble anyway, so I'm just going to take him. Sorry."

Sometimes I love being a foreigner. Anyway, out of all the non-work, non-subway station places I've been in Shanghai, I've spent the most time at the Shelter. In fact I'm going there again for my birthday party in two weeks!!


Date Taken: February 5th, 2008

We were off work this week because of the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) so I used the occasion to get in some sightseeing. I spent this day doing a walking tour of the People's Square area. Thanks, Lonely Planet!!

There's not too much to say about People's Square except that the metro station there is the interchange between lines 1, 2, and 8. It's the busiest station in the city by far, and I've heard it's also the busiest in the country, which isn't too far-fetched given that Shanghai's metro system is far more extensive than Beijing's. If you're at People's Square at rush hour, you'll be swept along by a tide of humanity as you make your way towards your destination, especially if you're switching metro lines. In fact, this will happen just about any time you visit. But since lines 1 and 2 are perpendicular to one another, when you're transferring you have to cross the paths of people who are coming at you. This results in a fun little dance step I like to call the "Shanghai Shuffle" as you attempt to move laterally and forwards simultaneously while (again simultaneously) dodging people who are streaming towards you.

Another fun part is getting off a metro train at the People's Square stop. Entire cars become empty for five seconds as people pour out onto the platform (before people waiting on the platform pour into the car). This means that you can be all the way at the back of the car and hemmed in by dozens of people, but you won't have any problem getting off the train here. Just relax and surrender to the current.

Well, it's fun, like I say, but it's also stressful. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I have to either get off AT People's Square (instead of transferring lines) or continue on to another stop on the same line. It's like, woohoo, I don't have to fight old ladies for floorspace! Haha.

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