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Needed: A little burlesque and affordable rock
By Brian Offenther

"IT'S another year for me and you," sang Iggy Pop of the Stooges in "1969," "another year with nothing to do."

A new year for Shanghai music opens with the potential for many different directions. With a scene so undeveloped in many ways, each ripple is like a wave, so any movement has a large effect.

Recently I've had the opportunity to travel. In particular, I recently performed DJ shows in Beijing and Singapore.

Both cities are very different in their relationship with Shanghai, but perhaps each has aspects that might be able to cross over and influence what we do over here. Let's check out some of the highlights.

Beijing is, of course, in many ways the big brother to Shanghai and exports much of its work to Shanghai (although fairly recently Shanghai has reciprocated by sending over a ticketing website and nightclub Dada to the capital).

On my recent trip I had the pleasure to see Moonglow Burlesque at music venue/restaurant CD Blues (Ritan Upper Street, 39 Shenlu Street). Moonglow Burlesque was formed by Miss Lulu Galore, a singer/dancer originally from Shanghai.

The group specializes in recreating retro entertainment in comedy, music and tantalizing dance routines. A variety of performers take part, expats and locals, all under the direction of Miss Lulu Galore.

Shanghai flirted with this sort of entertainment with a now-closed venue called Chinatown that featured a chorus-line of dancers and live music, and also hosts a variety of similar touring entertainment.

What made my burlesque experience so special though was its multifaceted accessibility. Tickets prices weren't outrageous, 150 yuan (US$24) for pre-sale, and the drinks weren't near the prices in many of the places in Shanghai.

It was a fun atmosphere, with the club stuffed with people, with some even sitting on the floor when chairs ran out. Performers interacted with the crowd, who were encouraged to shout out in response to the acts.

In summary: It was reasonably priced entertainment with a variety of acts in different styles, all done with an emphasis on fun over luxury. Can something like this happen in Shanghai?

My second trip brought me to pristine Singapore. Though the local music scene is quite small, I did have one experience worth remarking on. That would be my time at Wheels and Wieners (25A Perak Road), a restaurant and live music space in the city's Indian district.

Wheels and Wieners is an rock and roll-themed restaurant, specializing in comfort food like hot dogs and hamburgers. It caters to the motorcycle groups who ride right up to the door.

What was great about it was the weekend when a band, Roxy & the Lo-Beams, would play a few sets of classic rock tunes.

In Shanghai, a rock band playing at a reasonably priced restaurant doesn't yet exist. Again: can something like this happen in Shanghai?

I hope the answer to both questions is "yes," along with many great ideas Shanghai can generate on its own.

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