This year I participated in a workshop on heritage conservation at Tongji University organized by Dr. Rosemary Wakeman, which resulted in a special issue of the journal Built Heritage. I contributed a talk and an article to the journal on the subject of 1920s-1930s interwar era ballrooms. As I write in the article, the designers of these ballrooms constitute a veritable Who’s Who of Shanghai-based architects including the Spaniard Abelardo Lafuente, Englishman George Leopold “Tug” Wilson, Austro-Hungarian WWI veteran Ladislaus Hudec, Frenchman Paul Veysseyres, and Chinese architect C. S. Young (Yang Xiliu).
My article focuses on the history of seven ballrooms: the Astor House and Majestic Hotel ballrooms, the French Club ballroom, the Sky Terrace ballroom of the Park Hotel, the Cathay (Peace) Hotel ballroom, the Paramount Ballroom, and the Metropole Gardens Ballroom. Among these seven, five still exist in the city today. The Majestic Hotel was torn down in the early 1930s and the Metropole Gardens seems to have been destroyed in the 1990s if not before. Both occupied the space where the Westgate Mall (Meilongzhen guangchang) stands today, on the corner of Jiangning and Nanjing Roads.
If you wish to visit the remaining five ballrooms, they are generally open to the public, though often they are being used for private parties. Here are some photos I’ve taken of them over the years:
The Paramount Ballroom on Yuyuan Road
This is Shanghai’s most famous ballroom. Since the 1990s it has undergone numerous renovations and has lost its original dance floors. It is the only ballroom still being used primarily for dancing today.
The Astor House Ballroom (north of Bund near Garden Bridge)
I have also posted several articles on this website on the Astor House. Also see Alvaro Leonardo’s article in our special issue for details of Lafuente’s design scheme.
One of the most striking features of the ballroom is its original dance floor from the 1920s.
The French Club Ballroom (now part of Okura Garden Hotel on Maoming South Road)
This ballroom was built in the 1920s and designed by Veysseyre and Leonard; it was the center piece of the French Club or Circle Sportif Francais, which in 1990 became part of the new Okura Garden Hotel.
The Cathay Hotel (Fairmont Peace Hotel) Ballroom
Built as part of the Cathay Hotel and Sassoon House in 1929, designed by George Leopold “Tug” Wilson, this ballroom located on the 8th floor of the Peace Hotel on the Bund still retains many of its original features today.
The Sky Terrace Ballroom of the Park Hotel
Located on Nanjing West Road across from People’s Park, the Park Hotel is a masterpiece of Hudec’s and his flagship building in Shanghai. The 14th floor ballroom still retains its Deco features.