I’m Jeffrey Davenport. It’s not my real
name. It’s my international name
. I’ve always been a “Jeffrey” since kindergarten, but Davenport is a name my friend gave me in college because I was a flaming gay
, and he wanted to complete my alias. I have a Chinese name that I also embrace, but for this [article], I’ll go with Mr. Davenport. It sounds fancy.
My family is from Taipei. Before coming to Shanghai in 2012, we traveled between Taipei and Shanghai a lot for my Dad’s company (that’s my day job, manufacturing in the wood and timber industry, pretty sexy).
Besides work, two years ago, a group of friends of mine and I started Snap!
, pop-up parties for the LGBTQ communities. We started Snap! because we thought the gay scene was dying at the time… Studio, Shelter, Eddies, etc., they closed down for a number of reasons and for specific reasons, and very few of them re-opened. That’s why we started our own events, and we wanted to start up a community.
All four of us had experience in gay scenes all over the world. For me, I lived within the San Francisco community… which… the queer gay scene there is so rich. There’s like, the circuit parties, the bar scenes, the hipster gays, the Latino Mission, there’s also a lot of pansexual-queer events. One of the most memorable was the Burning Man party, street parties with floats, different types of music and always a good mix of people in terms of people, age, ethnicity, background, gender identities, etc. Everyone is so open-minded, so free spirited, something I would want to build in Shanghai.
One thing that I like about Shanghai is that the straight people that I am generally exposed to are very open-minded. They are people who are international. I also see an increasing amount of local Chinese who are very accepting; they don’t really care about gender identity/sexuality. For them it's more about making friends and ya know, getting to know people. Sexuality is not really that big of a deal for them. I see older people also really opening up in Shanghai. This place is a lot more liberal.
When I talk to people who have never been outside of China, they have no idea what Shanghai is. I don’t think Shanghai really defines China. It is so different in many ways. I don’t see Shanghai as being what China will become, or separate from China. It's a part of China. Many people who visit Shanghai for the first time, they don’t see how it’s possible for a Communist country to develop a city like Shanghai. It is part of what makes China very charming, these unexpected possibilities. It's fascinating.
As for what I see in Shanghai in terms of love… well guys on Grindr are getting sexier and sexier. I mean, yeah, it’s a hookup platform, but there is so much more variety because of the nature of the city. There are so many travelers like visiting artists, students, business men, entrepreneurs that come here to Shanghai. There are always new and fresh faces in the city. I suppose it’s exciting for people looking for that sort of connection [hookups].
But for romance, or should I say, people who are looking for a more stable traditional relationship, Shanghai is kind of difficult, because people come and go. For example, if you meet an expat, they’re on a temporary visa, or a one-year contract. When you meet someone that you like a lot
, there’s going to be an unspoken expiration date. It can be tough. Many people decide to leave, and so then there are a lot of long-distance relationships that happen.
What do I like to do? K-TOWN. I know, it’s very far from where we are, very far from downtown, but the food is so good. I’m not Korean so I don’t know if it’s authentic. But definitely the best Korean bbq and fried chicken in the entire town. Qing He Gu
, is the place to go there.
I love going to CrossFit Body In Motion
in Gubei. Workouts keep me sane a bit, it helps me focus for the rest of the day. I wake up, listen to some news, work, go to the gym, go back to work. I have a flexible schedule, so it kind of works towards my benefit that my supervisor is my DAD. I mean, like, he haaaated
it when I first started doing this routine. He would call me and if I didn’t answer while I was working out, he would get really pissed off. But it really helps me to focus in work, I become more efficient for the day, and it energizes me to work longer hours. He’s stopped bothering me during my work out hours now (which is before lunch usually).
I like Tim’s Hungover Games
. It is archery tag, they do it twice a week, Saturday and Sunday which is the (hungover game). They normally have like 20-30 people and split up to 4-5 teams and they play against each other. They had a gay championship a while ago.
I get stuck with favorites, it’s so hard to pick one thing in any category. I love KTV, one of my favorite things to do. Taipei-K, it’s the best. It is owned by Taiwanese company PartyWorld. There used to be a few of those around. In Shanghai, All Club
does good underground parties. I am more attracted to the house scene. Elevator
, which closed, a place called Smash
, Smash was fun, also closed. Damn. Oh! Dada
, damn how could I forget Dada, its one of my faves that’s still open. I also like Love Bang
too. Ian is such a sweetheart, the parties that he throws are amazing. This is something that is new about Shanghai, even the underground scene is becoming posh. They all look fresh, clean, people dressed to “go out”, I feel like Dada might be the only place left that is still grungy. Which is sad in a sense. I mean Shanghai’s “gentrification” is a double-edged sword.
I go now mostly to Snap! parties though. The parties we throw wouldn’t really be considered exclusively “gay”. There are a lot of women that come (and not all of them are lesbians). We’re more mainstream and more pop-oriented. We have some parties coming up.
We have a roller-skate place called Riink
(big shout out to Ting Ting, she owns Roxie
) which we’ll be doing a party at
. Ever since we started doing Snap!, we’ve accumulated a decent number of followers, close to 1,000 in two WeChat groups, and 3,000 followers on our account.
Definitely need to give a shout out to Daliah
, where we had our first party. She is an amazing person, also a very talented artist. She has a very popular brunch
. Also, want to shout out to The Cut Rooftop
, they have an amazing terrace for any night of the week, especially for after work happy hour. It’s great for professionals, but also good for intimacy, high ceilings, etc.
We’ve grown, so much so that we have enough sub-groups that we can begin to expand. Lifestyle (dinner parties), networking for gay professionals, and explore more of the underground scene on top of the mainstream/pop scene that most are familiar with too. Also interested in expanding overseas to Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka.
We had our first overseas party in Taipei, which drew 400, and 20 came from Shanghai! We did a vogue'ing ballroom party. The Ballroom Culture
started in New York in the 70’s or 80’s, within the trans and gay communities. It’s a style of dance, and people compete, there are categories, themes, people dress up, and then win trophies and prizes. We had a judge from the House of Milan for the competition, two MC’s, two DJs. Three competitions.
First category was “virgin vogue”, it was for people who had never competed in a ball before. The second category competition “FACE”, guys compete on how well they can pass as cis gender women. Third is OTA (open to all) vogue dancing competition, it’s kind of like a catwalking, ballet, and more.
What do I see for Shanghai’s future? Damn, what am I being asked here? Oh man. I don’t know. The city changes so much. You can’t possibly try to grasp what it’s going to grow into, or what it will become. It’s like a black hole. You don’t know what sorts of policies will happen that might enrich the city or take everything away. The uncertainty, but also the mystery, is what attracts me, and what makes me love the city.
And I guess what I would say to everyone here in Shanghai, hang tight. This place is a rollercoaster. You’ll have a great time, it's miraculous, it’s a ride.