I was invited by my gay housemate to join him last night at a club on the Bund called Zeal. Gay Pride week is beginning and it was opening night.
To date, the only Gay Pride experience I have had was in Paris, and like lots of other Parisian events it was a parade through Paris amidst decorated floats pumping out different beats from Montparnasse to Bastille.
So when he first asked me to join, the parade came to my mind and I thought a parade? In China? You have to be kidding me! There’s no way that shit’s allowed and no offence, but even though Shanghai is the most open city of China I find it difficult to believe celebrating homosexuality so openly could be a thing.
A parade was indeed not to be. But what an awesome party it was! I was at a networking event before heading to Zeal and people were all going to another club. For a split second I felt disappointed at not joining them. Gay party? There’s nothing in it for me! Zeal? Other side of Shanghai!
However, I’d told my housemate I was going, so as my Chinese friend and I arrived in front of the spot and walked into the marble hall lined with these imposing ionic columns, we saw this party of people dressed up in bright colours, crazy lashes, plain baggy gear, wigs and crop cuts, high heels and slacks all waiting in front of the lifts. Cross-dressers, gays, lesbians, straight people, the whole spectrum was there.
We got to the sixth floor and it was heaving. As we waited to get our entrances, beautiful cross-dressers were partying and blowing kisses at us and when we got into the club and met up with our friends, the party was already well on its way. I personally felt a surge in my sense of freedom; simply that this was taking place in such a conservative country.
It was my Chinese friend’s first “gay party” and I saw her face light up out of slight surprise and enjoyment. The music was pumping and everybody was dancing outlandishly. She started dancing enthusiastically and said to me “You know, it’s the first time I’ve felt so comfortable in a club. I feel like I could take my dress off and nobody would give a shit”. It made me smile.
It had been a while since I’d been to a gay club, and I suddenly remembered why I used to enjoy going so much when I was at University. Gays just know how to have fun!
And very rightly the slogan of the night was 我骄傲 Wǒ jiāo’ào I am proud！