The Little Club opened in November 1926. Located across the Race Course on 60 Bubbling Well road, it became part of a nightlife zone encompassing other dance palaces and cafes. Today the Grand Theater of Shanghai still stands in that space. The band supporting the club was originally led by pianist William "Bill" Hegamin, an African American jazz musician who had come out to Asia in the early 1920s and had played in Manila before coming to Shanghai to play at the Plaza Hotel in 1925 along with Jack Carter's band. He remained in Shanghai until at least 1941 and was a mainstay of the jazz scene. The club was run by an American woman named Marie Meredith. Here are some pieces in the local press announcing the new club to the Shanghai public:
THE LITTLE CLUB
Shanghai now possesses a first-class Night Club. It is appropriately called 'The Little Club' and its habitation is opposite the Race Course where the entrance to San Souci Terrace used to be. Its little entrance is covered by a little awning, an orange colored awning. The Little Club is run by a little lady. A pretty little lady, whose taste and ability are expressed by the delightful surroundings and furnishing of her little enterprise. There is nothing like it in Shanghai and the note of intimacy and comfort which it strikes must make it the chosen rendez-vous of many women who value the importance of atmosphere as a background to beautiful toilettes. At last we have a select and delightful evening resort. Beauty and Brains have worked together producing this Little Club, and I think the combination will win out and become firmly established in the goodwill of those who appreciate good taste, good music, good service, good wine at a fair price. The cover charge is Two Bob the Nob, and is justified, for you cannot expect luxury for less; yet, consider a quart at Ten is precisely less a quart at Sixteen by $6. Two cover charges of $2 make $4, so, when your first quart is finished you are $2 up on balance. If, reader, you are a night bird and you know a beautiful bird of the opposite gender who will go with you, take her to the Little Club and see for yourself whether or no I have understated its attractiveness and appeal. (From The China Press, November 28, 1926)
The Little Club, which opened its doors at 60 Bubbling Well Road last evening, brought a bit of London or New York night-club life to Shanghai. This night-club atmosphere is distinct from the weird cabaret atmosphere with which Shanghai is acquainted, and all the attributes of the former which mean a cozy evening amid artistic surroundings, good music, and a general air of savoir faire, were to be noted even on an opening night. The Little Club's decorations are artistic to a high degree ….(From the North-China Daily News, November 25, 1926)
Shanghai always has lacked one thing—that is at place where one can go and sup and thoroughly enjoy an evening without having to put up with the noise of a raucous jazz band. Now however there is a place where the music is soft and melodious and where you are absolutely and thoroughly surrounded by 'atmosphere.' It is the Little Club…. Atmosphere envelopes you front the moment you enter. The Little Club has a clubby atmosphere without really being a club. One doesn't have to be a member because everyone is welcome to share this very pleasant pretty supper room. (Jeannette in The China Press)
THE LITTLE CLUB is It smart place to sup and dance. William Hegamin's colored orchestra from New York. Miss Peggy James and Mr. Ralph Lynn entertain. Opens every evening at 10 p.m. Telephone West 4206: At The Orange Canopy.
Shanghai Can Take World Record with Opening of “Little Club”
With the opening of another place for dance and diversion certainly Shanghai may fairly claim a world record in the number of its cabarets. “The gayest port in all the Far East,” is the way travelers commonly tell about this part of China, and the addition that brightens the lustre of this fame flaunts into being under the designation “The Little Club.”
And, incidentally, opening of The Little Club brings that section of Bubbling Well Road where it bends around the race track into competition with Shanghai’s Barbary Coast on the western outskirts, and also with the small area in Frenchtown south of Avenue Edward VII so far as congestion of night-time merriment is concerned. Hereafter through the hours of darkness, in an area over which an invalid could throw a biscuit, no less than three dancing floors will be peopled while the saxophones sob.
Dominating this parrticular half acre is the Carlton, reckoned to be one of the most sumptuous establishments of its kind in the world, and pioneer here of a numerous cabaret progeny now spread geographically from Jukong Road and the far purlieus of Hongkew south and westward through the settlements out to where flourishes the “Siccawei Country Club” under aegis of “The Demon” meaning, of course, the Del Monte and its amiable proprietor Thurman Hyde.
Adjoining the Carlton and in the same building with the same Manager, who is Al Israel, is the popular Palais de Danse with its special and particular attractions, not the least of which at the moment is an all-Chinese jazz band imported from Hawaii.
The Little Club is all but next door to the Palais de Danse. It is something of a novelty here, an institution modelled after the night clubs of London and New York, furnished attractively and possessing facilities for entertainment and social intercourse with a group of “cullud boys” specially imported from the States to provide harmony and inspiration for dancing. The Little Club opened on Wednesday night under direction of a hostess who is Mrs. Joe Merideth. “One With the Dance; Let Joy be Unconfined.” (China Press, Nov 26 1926)