The Young Taxi Dancers of 1930s Shanghai

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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