“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Old Shanghai Taxi Dancers as Dance Teachers…

Posted: February 7th, 2020 | No Comments »

A few years ago a newspaper (which shall remain nameless to spare their blushes) ran a review of a book by me and showed a picture of a line of old Shanghai taxi dancers waiting for partners in a dancehall – probably in the early 1930s. The Picture Editor simply captioned the photograph ‘Shanghai Prostitutes’. Those poor women must have been spinning in their graves…

Except of course the ones who did a little off-the-books work. That’s the thing about old Shanghai taxi dancers – they come in many forms. Some did arange liaisons with dance partners for later and money was exchanged. But most were simply dance partners for hire and many (not just in Shanghai of course, but globally) also gave dance lessons or dance exhibitions with male partner, either privately for arranged by the nightclub or ballroom. If men couldn’t dance then ballrooms would pretty quickly go out of business.

And so here, from 1927, is a Shanghai taxi dancer giving a lesson to a customer (who is a rather dapper chap and perhaps also an exhibition danceron) of the foxtrot…

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