In May, more than any other month, we feel most alive!
It’s party season in May, with music shows, street theater and a host of other events bringing together artists from around the world.
This year’s four-day JZ Spring jazz festival kicked off the month with outdoor concerts by nearly 100 musicians from 20 countries and regions. Jazz lovers, to say the least, were over the moon.
Parks, street corners and shopping malls along Nanjing Road W. were filled with jazz, including performances by Spanish trumpeter Antonio Lopez and international swing dance group Deco Rhythm.
International artists who have settled in Shanghai also participated, including Maria, one of the finest Latin musicians in Shanghai; Batucada Samba Groove, featuring Brazilian percussionists and dancers; and Alina, who starred in TV shows, including “The Voice,” where she made it to the semi-finals.
“I come every year, and today I brought my young daughter to enjoy the music,” said Christine Pan, mother of a 5-year-old girl. “I think it’s great to just lie on the lawn and enjoy the music.”
“It’s really a carnival,” said Xu Meng, who traveled here from Hangzhou with her friends. “I really love it. It makes me feel that I’m in a foreign city because it’s so international. Yes, Shanghai is international.”
Chinese jazz singer Coco Zhao and jazz pianist Huang Jianyi held talks at L’s Book Cafe & Wine, on the first floor of the historical Changde Apartment, where Shanghai author Eileen Chang once lived.
Chang (1920-95), one of the most renowned female writers in China, wrote novels that sometimes alluded to Changde Apartment, known as Eddington House in the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, jazz was a high point of the cultural scene of Shanghai.
It isn’t only music that makes May special. Free theater performances have been staged at popular spots in Jing’an, including Jing’an Park, the Majestic Theater and the Plaza 66 shopping mall as part of this year’s Jing’an Modern Drama Valley event.
The Shanghai-based Wulong Troupe, which combines stilt-walking, puppetry and dance, turned several shopping malls into fantasy worlds, where the public could encounter fictional characters.
People followed the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole in “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” and saw the Queen of Hearts leading her army to seek out Alice in the crowds. They also joined Dorothy and her friends in the magical “Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
Wang Zi, who was named best single performer at the Wuzhen Theater Festival, performed his mime “HaHaHa, telling five stories with no words. They included portrayals of a child left alone at home and a man attending a funeral.
Elsewhere in the district, a mobile reading pavilion near Jing'an Park gave people passionate about the spoken word an outlet to read aloud some of their favorite literary works in the telephone-booth-size pavilion.
In the middle of the month, the annual Shanghai Jing’an World Coffee Cultural Festival kicked off.
In the rooftop garden on the fourth floor of the HKRI Taikoo Hui mall, more than 20 renowned coffee shops, from chain stores and individual coffee shops across the country, offered their special brews to java lovers.
Participants included Shanghai-based Manner, Paras, Seesaw and S.Engine, Suzhou's Sparrow, Chengdu-based UID and Nanjing’s M2M. Top baristas from across the country mixed herbal tea with coffee, brewed coffee on hot sand and poured coffee in traditional Chinese tea cups, among other innovative ways of making and serving the popular drink.
Coffee has increasingly becoming a part of Shanghai culture, and downtown Jing'an is a center of the action. The area is home to Starbucks’ first international Reserve Roastery.