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Art and Facts of The Shelter

Show-and-Tell with Shanghai's favorite underground club. Shelter manager Gaz shows us all the wonderful junk he's saved over 9 years of parties in a basement.
2016-12-01 16:54:51
After 9 years, on December 31, 2016, Shanghai is slated to lose a huge piece of its soul -- if it even has one, right -- with the closure of The Shelter, a Yongfu Lu dungeon of ferocious bass and good-bad ideas swathed in black. From its beginnings as a hope for a better night out from a collection of small-time (and much, much younger) Shanghai-based promoters to its current position as the internationally recognized Shanghai outpost of underground culture, it's been a long road for Shanghai's most important dance club. I'm sure will spill more digital ink on The Shelter in the final weeks leading up to their final bow on New Year's Eve but for today, the Thursday before their big 9th-Anniversary weekend, we're turning it over to Shelter Co-Manager Gaz, who will be leading us on a annotated trip down memory lane.

Gaz, as it turns out, is a bit of a pack-rat, and has been saving Shelter memorabilia from the last 9 years of events. He's brought with him 10 special items he's saved, along with the stories behind said items. The next words are his, edited for length and British spelling.

Don't miss out on some of or all of The Shelter's 9-Year Anniversary this weekend. Friday is a hip hop, funk, soul night with The Shelter's other manager V-Nutz plus Shortkut, one of the most talented turntabalists to come out of SF. Saturday night is ghosts of the past with Blaise Deville, icenine of ROM, Hamacide, Downstate, and more flying in to Shanghai for one last trip on the club decks, and Sunday is the last Karma Koma night, the first weekely night they ever had -- a left-field/downbeat/IDM night hosted by ChaCha.


1) The Calendar of the First Month

"This is the original rough draft for the first month at The Shelter. When we first started we also opened every Tuesday and Sunday for ‘The Shelter Lounge’ where we attempted to make the venue into a comfortable place to sit down with friends and have a quiet drink. It didn’t last very long. We also did a couple of live band nights until the authorities ‘found out’ that we didn’t have a license for live music and made us stop the rock."

2) Shelter Gold Chain

"The first couple of Halloween nights at Shelter were some of the most memorable events we have done. Our ‘concept’ was to turn the club into our own worst nightmare. The first one we did was a commercial hip hop club, and we made 200 of these gold chains to give out on the door. They are really fragile and pretty much all were broken at the end of the night, to my knowledge this is the only one in one piece. Probably the highlight of this night was ChaCha, dressed in all gold, super drunk, and dancing/rubbing up against Gary [V-Nutz] during his set. Gary’s face was priceless."

3) The Shelter VIP Card

"The second Halloween night we had a ‘VIP’ night and all dressed up as pretentious wankers. The flyer was a gold embossed invitation and everyone who came received a VIP card. The back of the card reads:

“Congratulations on becoming a VIP member of The Shelter

This card entitles you to the following:

Nothing at all.
Absolutely nothing.”

4) Bananas Flyers

"Bananas, a night run by [ex-Shanghai-based DJs] Mr Stokes, Kamikaze and Elnomo, always came up with interesting ways to promote. This event they made blank flyers for people to design their own, with a ‘fill in the blanks’ description on the back. This flyer was designed by legendary German graffiti artist Zeb Roc Ski. They also did a biker-themed night with their own temporary tattoos, and some kind of horror/frog themed night where they brought actual live frogs into The Shelter and suspended them next to the booth in nets.

I didn’t realize until half way through the night they were actual live frogs and got a bit angry at them and made them take them down and release them into the wild.

(Yongfu Lu.)"

5) Dafter Party

"This is another Bananas event, but one that deserves a separate mention. In early 2009, Shanghai has supposed to host the ‘Daft Hidden’ tour, a secret Daft Punk gig in Shanghai, with tickets going for around 500rmb. They had a whole team of students selling tickets, a website and an actual physical ticket office in the centre of the city. People got very excited. There were huge lines at the ticket office. People were showing off their purchased tickets online. It was a big event for Shanghai.

Alas, it was a scam and the ‘organizers’ made off with the cash and the event never happened. Bananas hosted a Dafter Party at Shelter, dressing up as Daft Punk, and giving free entrance to anyone with a Daft Punk ticket (the most expensive ticket in to Shelter ever). The night was absolutely rammed and was probably better than a Daft Punk show anyway."

6) Sweatshop Sewing Kit

"[Local DJ / promoter] Siesta started Sweatshop, “your local drum and bass factory” at Shelter in January 2008 and as a promotional gift gave out these sewing kits for her event with Abruzzi Spur (AKA Carl Lorimer), Blaise, ChaCha, and Viceroy in June that year. I still use mine to this day…"

7) Shanghai Vibrations Gift Pack

"In 2009, Uprooted Sunshine hosted “Shanghai Vibrations - A Mini Dub-Reggae Festival”, a night with Vibronics and Madu Messenger, BBC Radio’s Steve Barker, Komodo from Canada, Zenmala Jalama, Lamu from Mokkos and Uprooted. We made gift packs to give out on the night which included the program, the Uprooted PAUSE mix CD by Blaise, stickers, and rolling papers. The rolling papers were just OCB with stickers on top promoting the next 2 events.

At that time there were not that many places selling rolling papers, the main shop being a place called “Sideways” on Xinle Lu. We made around 500 packets of rolling papers and then went to the spots that sold them and replaced their standard OCB with ours (giving them a few extra free for their trouble), and then took theirs and put our stickers on and repeated.

Probably anyone buying papers in those 2 months were getting 'Uprooted Papers'."

8) Karma Koma Postcards

"Karma Koma, founded by ChaCha [Faded Ghost, AM444], was our first Thursday night event and one of my favorite nights we’ve ever had at Shelter. Her best friend and flat mate at the time, Bing Bing, designed some amazing posters and they released a post card set of some of the best designs. Karma Koma is coming back for one night only this Sunday with the long awaited return of Sig (Karma Koma brought Sig to Shanghai for the very first time), R3, Lon, HBD, and ChaCha."

9) Uprooted, Clive Chin, and VP records

"[Gaz’s dub / reggae platform] Uprooted brought Clive Chin and Selector Twice to China twice, the second time touring 12 cities in China. On top of the club events, we also organized lectures, photo exhibitions, and studio workshops.

After the tour, Uprooted ended up as ‘October’ on the official 2011 VP calendar, the month after The Black Diciples and month before Capleton."

10) Beat Conductorz Beat Battle

"Beat Conductorz was a Thursday night event run by Sickstar, Hamacide, and Ceezy. For one of their events they had a live beat battle, with Jeru Tha Damaja hosting and judging. He chose a sample and producers brought their own equipment down and had a couple of hours to make a beat from the sample, presenting it at the end of the night. Here are the beats we could find, I think there were a few more out there. [Shanghai-based producer] Ceezy was the winner. Then, night after, Jeru performed at Shelter and just after his set finished, someone let of some pepper spray and the club emptied immediately."

Bonus Round I: Random Signed Stuff

"Here’s a few things we got signed over the years. Fan boy stuff..."

Bonus Round II: Random Flyers

"Here are a few of the flyers I saved from the early years of Shelter."



Thanks, Gaz! So many memories in theory! Shanghai, hit up The Shelter this weekend for their 9-year anniversary. Details here.