going places: shanghai

photo by yoko chu

money, power, and style move at dizzing speeds in the biggest, baddest city in all of china.

Friday night and sweat drips from the ceiling of a former bomb shelter in Shanghai. Five hundred people stand crushed together in the darkness as two spotlit female MCs battle at the front of the club. In the Jamaican do-rag, weighing in at around 110 pounds, is ChaCha, from South Central China’s Guizhou Province. In the veil of sweat-soaked black ringlets, at a wiry 90-odd pounds, is Rumi, the pint-sized Japanese MC who has jetted over with her DJ, Skyfish. They battle in a ferocious, high- pitched English scattered with Chinese, Japanese, and Jamaican Rasta slang.

We are at The Shelter, basecamp of China’s electronic scene—a dank, grotty pit that smells like a serial killer’s basement and yet each week hosts DJs from across Asia and the rest of the world. Tonight’s throwdown is presented by the bass collective SubCulture, which has already brought over Shackleton, Pinch, Kode9, Claude Speeed, A Made Up Sound, and Desto in just this year alone.

That a night like this should take place in a literal bomb shelter built by Communists bracing for nuclear attack is an irony so prosaic it barely registers in the whirl of contradictions that assault any visitor to Shanghai. While China races toward wholesale transformation, nowhere in the nation moves as fast as this city. Home to 23 million people (seven million from elsewhere in China or abroad), Shanghai is a clash of brutal poverty and obscene privilege, dilapidated communal housing and multimillion- dollar penthouses, corrupt socialism and rampant capitalism.

“The city is in a constant state of transition,” says R3, a music promoter and DJ born in Burma, educated in Australia, and relocated to Shanghai six years ago. “Culturally, economically, architecturally, it wants to be everything to everyone,” he adds. “It’s a bit of a lost soul, but it allows anyone with a good idea to have a shot.” R3 is the co-founder of S.T.D., who have brought MONO, Boys Noize, Digitalism, Fucked Up, Ratatat and others to tour China. Last year, he opened Arcade, a cocktail bar in the formerly French- administered district widely known as the French Concession. Arcade sits above an organic café and below a brothel—its placement emblematic of a cultural free-for-all that’s unknown in other, already mapped-out cities.

Shanghai, like the rest of China, is in its early Restoration-period, after a century of warfare, starvation, and terror. Its young are just now seeking a voice of their own—in fields like art, fashion, and electronic music—and the city is wide open to anyone who can satisfy this desire.

By 2015, China is expected to account for 20-percent—a cool $27 billion—of the global luxury market. Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Balenciaga have all opened massive flagships in Shanghai [in Summer 2012]; Vuitton consumes four levels of a new mall, with an invite-only floor for VIPs. While in the past demand focused on international brands, the city is now seeing a proliferation of homegrown designers.

“The most interesting things happening in Shanghai’s fashion scene are coming from Chinese designers,” says Yi Guo, the style editor of Vogue China. “Uma Wang, who will show at Milan’s fashion week, Jenny Ji, who will show at London’s week, Qiu Hao. They are all getting international recognition.”

These designers sell to a younger, more avant-garde Chinese consumer, one who wants style more than the bland status symbol of a designer monograph. “Chinese people are very fast learners and adopters,” says Guo. “They have learned from European brands but they’re now creating their own style, one that’s unmistakably Chinese.” She points to boutique stores like Le Lutin, Alter, Vanitas, and Madame Mao’s Dowry as truer representatives of emerging trends than the malls stuffed with monolithic brands.

Shanghai’s wealth and hunger for world status is even more evident in the dining scene. This is a city where restaurants open every week, many backed by Michelin-starred chefs and bold-name restaurateurs. The latest openings on the Bund—a riverside street with Shanghai’s highest rents—include Mercato, Jean Georges Vongerichten’s first-ever Italian concept, and Colagreco from chef Mauro Colagreco, whose other restaurant, Mirazur, on the French Riviera earned its second star earlier this year. Both spots can be found in the same historic building, along with another Jean Georges restaurant, the ultra-high end Chinese restaurant Whampoa Club, and The Cupola, a private dining restaurant with only one table that seats just two people. On the same block, Jack London opened this summer, helmed by Anna Bautista, former chef of Michelin- starred Madera in San Francisco’s Menlo Park—on the 24th floor of another historic building, above a club and a boutique hotel.

“Many of these places will fail,” says Geoff Ng, a Hong Kong- Canadian dining critic based in Shanghai. “Everyone’s in a hurry to open here. Backers will spend millions acquiring and presenting a space, hiring big-name chefs, and sometimes restaurants don’t last a year.” Many chefs fail to understand the Chinese palate or just what this city’s new rich want from a restaurant. Others sink in scandal, run afoul of government bureaucracy, or find their partners have looted the coffers and disappeared. “There is still a sense of chaos and anything-goes in the dining scene, as there is in construction, art, property—so many aspects of life in China.”

From outside, it might look as if the Party maintains its iron grip. Inside mega-cities like Shanghai, this myth evaporates. Laws ban everything, and everyone breaks them all, knowing no one has the time or ability to stop them. In this city’s global cultural stew of brothels, cricket fights, and Ferrari dealerships, there’s a sense of freedom that’s unparalleled in the world. China is forging its new era as we speak, and Shanghai is its furnace. 

-Originally published in our November 2012 issue-

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.