Ladies Of Old Shanghai On The 4th Avenue

Ever since more than a century ago when China became the semi-colony of the Western Power and Shanghai was forced to be under the rule of the white supremacists, there have been two different cultures co-existed in China: one is so-called Beijing Style (京派), distinctively Chinese and traditional but with a sour twist as its authenticity had long been lost following the demise of the last indigenous regime, the Mind Dynasty (1368 – 1644); and the other is dubbed Shanghai Style (海派), characterized by a rather Westernized approach, more cosmopolitan yet extremely self-indulgent.

The first photo studio Wang Kai Photo Shop (王开照相馆) in Shanghai’s “Cultural Street” 4th Avenue ( 四马路) in 1930s, the heyday during Shanghai’s colonial era.

Apart from “high culture” represented by book stores, pop culture such as photo shops and theatres and cinemas, 4th Avenue was also a centre for “low culture” – brothels.

With a high concentration of book stores, stationary shops, theatres, cafes and dancing parlours in and around the 4th Avenue, the street became one of the favourite haunts of the young ladies of elite in the old Shanghai.

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