From the 1940s until the 1960s, San Francisco’s Chinatown was home to a thriving Chinese American nightclub scene. The clubs had names like Forbidden City, the Chinese Skyroom, and the Shanghai Low. They had showgirls, ballroom duos, comedians, jazz singers, and magic acts -- all featuring Asian-American entertainers. These clubs had wide appeal: celebrities like Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, and Lauren Bacall were all spotted over the years, along with tourists, businessmen and locals. The Forbidden City even inspired a novel, by C.Y. Lee, which was later turned into the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Flower Drum Song”.
Lenora Lee, a native San Franciscan dancer and choreographer, makes large-scale interdisciplinary work that tells the stories of Asians in America – stories that she says aren’t represented in the mainstream media or in art. And her latest piece, "Reflections," is a response to what Lee says she witnessed as a Chinese American growing up in San Francisco.