This article is more of an encapsulated version of the story told in the previous article I posted on the history of Shanghai's cabaret industry and its origins in the infamous area known as "The Trenches." Again it focuses on the importance of hiring Russian women as bar hostesses which started the trend and on the position of Jukong Road outside Settlement boundaries. I was fortunate to find this article while researching my book and reference it in Shanghai's Dancing World.
Down In The Honkey-Tonk Of Jukong Road The Hoi Pol-loi Of Shanghai Got Their First Taste Of Cabarets
CHAS L GARB China Press Staff Writer The China Press Dec 24, 1931
15 Years Ago City Was Cabaretless—Today 100 Thrive
Shanghai did not have a single cabaret 15 years ago whereas it now has over 100 establishments catering to the public.
Shanghai's fame, or rather notoriety, has spread to practically every remote corner of this universe and unusually there is an increasing number of tourists arriving to swell the coffers of local curio amid souvenir dealers, and a thousand and one other merchants.
It was towards the end of 1916 that Shanghai had its first cabaret, the Palermo on Jukong Road. It was opened up by a man named “Charley” Maitland, who was born and reared here. Recruiting the services of a number of Russian girls who had fled from Siberia and the hard Red hand of the Boshevists, Maitland opened up his pioneer taxi-dancing joint in great style and took practically all the business from the Naval Club, New Travelers, Land We Live In, Golden Globe and numerous other bars in town that hnd only barmaids to offer as dancing partners to patrons.
How well Maitland's Palermo succeeded con be gauged by the fact that within six months after opening, the Eldorado and about ten other cabarets worked on the same lines as the Palermo, threw open their doors nearby his establishment to the night birds of Shanghai.
Jukong Road gradually became known as “The Trenches" and its warcry of “Mester, I loof you— gimme a bodle vine," proved so potent that it ruined many a man’s health, fortune, happiness, and chances of fame.
“The Trenches” strangled themselves. Patrons, taking advantage of the fact that Jukong Road was situated outside of the International Settlement boundaries, became more and more boisterous nightly and it was something to be remembered should a night have passed without at least a dozen fights.
Melees, in which fists and boots were the main weapons, were tolerated by the Chapei police but when after a period these did not seem to be able to settle disputes and the combatants adopted the method of putting a man out with pistols, beer bottles and with chairs, the authorities put a stop to the crazy street's functioning by closing up all the cabarets but only after one or two fatalities were recorded.
The Settlement Invasion
A number of the cabaret operators who had been forced to close down their joints in Chapei opened up new establishments In the International Settlement and French Concession but on a much more dignified scale. Noticing that taxi-dancing and legalized booze-selling was a profitable business others broke into the trade and Shanghai’s present number of halls can bear witness that they did not make a mistake with their speculations.
After a time, patrons of cabaret became far too accustomed to dancing with only Russian girls. They demanded fresh thrills and got it. Women of other nationalities, among which Japanese and Chinese predominate, were enticed to enlist in the growing ranks by the easy money and fun to be had in the blare of jazz under the bright lights.