Forbidden City

5:43pm

Thu September 12, 2013
Arts & Culture

Keeping memories of Chinatown alive – and kicking!

Courtesy of Grant Avenue Follies

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”.

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