Dazed Digital

Shanghai

Guest Editors: Jellymon

November 30, 2011

Satellite Voices's favourite Shanghai creative collective and agency guide us through a month immersed in the city's culture

  • Text by Satellite Voices

Guest Feature by Josh Atkin

Welcome to the Jellymon Shanghai column. Every month we'll be providing you with an inside scoop into one of the most exciting cities in the world. Whether it's unusual and tasty food, the latest cultural influences about town, people's wild and wacky fashion styles or some of our own weird and wonderful pleasures, we hope our column will accumulate the smells and sensations that this city emanates and convert them into bite size paragraphs for your reading pleasure!

Picture the scene: two fully-grown men one dressed as a tiger, the other a cat. Passers by point and stare as they stroll down the street, suck on street noodles and sip from their bottles of beer. Soon, other creatures both living and undead join the two giant cats. There appears to be a mutual understanding between this pack while outsiders stand on in a bemused state. This isn’t however some fantastical literary moment, but rather a snapshot from Halloween in Shanghai, one of the two Western party festivals we’ve indulged in this past month. Halloween is a great example of how Western influences have started to blend into this city’s life, whilst still remaining a complete anomaly to the majority.

Once the hangovers and face paints had washed away, November announced itself and with the new month came a series of new activities for us to indulge in. First up was the 100% Design Festival at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Essentially a trade show for interior design specialists, we saw a variety of different products on display ranging from novel furniture concepts, storage units and textiles amongst other miscellany. Whilst it was encouraging to see such a wide selection of items in a single space, the overall show was somewhat disappointing. We were however big fans of the giant wheel of Parmesan appropriately placed within the Italian quarter of the show. In our eyes, all interiors should be made from Parmesan!

Later in the month, on one of those unusually clear Shanghai mornings, we whisked off to Century Park in Pudong for the 2011 China Youth Innovation Day. Taking over a large section of the park, the event was rather like a fete, with some stalls selling bric-a-brac, while others were booths for businesses to promote their services. A common theme throughout was that of sustainability with the promotion of organic plants and recycled items prominent. Jellymon was invited to share a booth to promote graphic design with some other local agencies and it was a fun, if slightly cold day out where we had the chance to make some new industry friends as well as engage with the general public.

In Shanghai, butchery is not an industry with particular merit. While it’s relatively easy to buy a chicken, or a cut of pork, you’d be lucky to find some quality beef. It is because of this, that if one were to proclaim having seen turkey on sale at a local grocer, it would be within reason to accuse them of daydreaming. Yet this is exactly what occurs towards the end of November as the American tradition of Thanksgiving bestows itself on the city. As with Halloween, this is another Western influence that has merged into pockets of contemporary Shanghai, with the true significance of the celebration not necessarily understood by those partaking. Still, the opportunity to eat copious amounts of roast meat is enough of a reason to overlook the significance and be thankful that a deliciously rare food item is available for a limited period.

So another month closes, and while we’ve only touched on a handful of the fun things that occurred in between our long working days, we’ve definitely sensed Shanghai’s selective approach to embracing Western tradition is driven by a similar thirst for entertainment. We wonder then, how many will take to toasting that illustrious May holiday of National Waitstaff Day: a celebration of men and women in the restaurant industry. We’ll report back next year when no doubt a couple of fully-grown men in maids outfits will prance around the city, whilst the rest of the populace shake their heads in a state of disbelief.

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