Shanghai Gay Club Hits Difficulties

A gay megaclub which opened in Shanghai earlier this summer has been forced to close, but accounts differ over whether this is due to discrimination, conspiring competitors or fire regulations and other licensing issues. Shanghaiist reports that local official bodies had received more than 40 complaints about the new venue:

The most vicious complaints that sounded the death knell for the club were those alleging that pornographic activities were taking place in the club. These were accompanied by pictures of dance performances and shirtless men dancing on the stage — sexy? yes. pornographic? hardly.

The club held its soft opening in June after receiving its “environmental license”. [Owner, Ricky] Lü says it’s common practice for bars to begin operations after getting this license while applying for all the other required licenses. Which makes sense to us — as anyone who has been in business in China will tell you, licenses can take forever to approve here ….

Unfortunately, the application for all the other necessary licenses have ground to a halt now. Officials in touch with Club Angel told the proprietors that the Xuhui District government would not allow the existence of a gay bar on the Hengshan Road strip.

But officials told Shanghai Daily that the problem is permits, not pornography:

“The club was temporarily closed because it illegally started trial operation without a business license, and the crackdown had nothing to do with discrimination against the gay community,” said an official surnamed Wang with the Xuhui Cultural Law Enforcement Team. “When it has all the necessary and legal licenses and permissions, it may be reopened again ….”

“Any bars or nightclubs may be opened for operation as soon as they get all the legal licenses and permissions from the government administrations …. But we have received massive complaints about the bar’s hidden danger of fire accidents as too many people swarmed to it for shows,” said Kong [deputy director of the local community office]. “For the sake of public safety, we have to halt its operation until it made rectification to solve the problem ….”

Lu admitted to Shanghai Daily yesterday that his club had received warnings from the Xuhui fire control bureau to carry out work to its facility to prevent fire accidents.

Lü might be forgiven for assuming the worst, though, given previous cases of heavy-handed treatment of gay venues and their patrons: see Shanghaiist’s reports on the fate of the city’s Q Bar, which was raided at the start of April, and remains closed.

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