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Swinging Chinatown Opening Night Gala

Feb.07.2010

Presented in collaboration with the Chinese Historical Society of America.

From the late 1930s to the early 1960s, Chinese nightclubs flourished in San Francisco's Chinatown. Clubs like the Chinese Skyroom, the Shangri-La, and the Forbidden City, were the first - and in those days the only - venues for talented Asian performers.

Swinging Chinatown brings back to life a long-neglected slice of Asian-American history. The exhibit will feature over 100 vintage photographs, dancer Ellen Chin's costumes and gold dancing shoes, Tony Wing's tap shoes, and menus, napkins and other mementos from several famous nightclubs. Immerse yourself in a bygone era, when celebrities and visitors of all stripes were entertained by Larry Ching, "the Chinese Frank Sinatra;" Noel Toy Young, "the Chinese Sally Rand;" and Paul Wing, the "Chinese Fred Astaire." The exhibit will feature vintage photographs, costumes, dancing shoes, menus, napkins and other mementos from famous nightclubs. Swinging Chinatown is co-curated by SFMHS associate curator Kristin Morris and historian Trina Robbins, author of Forbidden City: The Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs.

A glittering cocktail gala will celebrate the opening of Swinging Chinatown. Revelers will experience the sophistication, excitement and glamour of the Chinese nightclub scene with master of ceremonies Ben Fong-Torres. The evening will include performances by the Grant Avenue Follies, a troupe of former nightclub dancers, and appearances by many of the most famous entertainers of the day. Author Trina Robbins will sign her new book, Forbidden City: The Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

Swinging Chinatown Friday February 12 to Monday, February 15, 2010
Friday February 19 to Sunday, February 21, 2010
12 Noon to 5 PM
at the Old Mint

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