These days, a night out on the town might revolve around getting down to hip hop, techno, or rock music.In 1930s Shanghai, however, Chinese youth were mad for jazz music and social dancing.
A Western phenomenon, social dancing spread to the East so quickly that there was a problem: Many wanted to get in on the fun, but simply didn't know how to. Cue Shanghai's iconic taxi dancers.
Ranging from ages 15 to 25, these young women were well-versed in fancy footwork and worked at Shanghai's countless cabarets and dance halls.
How the term 'taxi dancer' came about: Comparable to taxi driver earnings, which are based on the duration of drives, taxi dancers' salaries were proportionate to the amount of time they spent dancing with well-heeled patrons.
Each young lady would offer a dance in exchange for a ticket and cash out her earnings at the end of the night. The ticketed system was also an efficient way for venues to keep track of their most popular dancers.
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