“Forbidden City” Chinatown Nightclubs Exhibit Opens in SF

The Mei Lings, Jade Mei Ling and Jackie Mei Ling, perform at the Kubla Khan (1940s). From the Frances Chun Collection, courtesy of DeepFocus Productions, Inc.

Update: Meet writer and filmmaker Arthur Dong as he discusses his new book, Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970. The related exhibition will be open and free to the public, so come early and enjoy the exhibit before the talk. A book sale and signing follows. Free gift with each book sale (while supplies last)!

FC Book front coverlrTuesday, May 6, 2014, 6:00-7:30pm
San Francisco Main Library
Koret Auditorium
100 Larkin Street, San Francisco
Map and info here.

 

 

Documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong’s “Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970″ exhibit opens this Saturday, April 12 at the San Francisco Public Library, with the opening program on April 13.

Chinese Sky Room cocktail napkin (1940s). From the Arthur Dong Collection, courtesy of DeepFocus Productions, Inc.

Chinese Sky Room cocktail napkin (1940s). From the Arthur Dong Collection, courtesy of DeepFocus Productions, Inc.

The collection and exhibit focus on the popular Chinese American nightclubs, circa 1930s-1960s—perhaps best known in the fictionalized portrayal in the 1960s Broadway, and later film, hit Flower Drum Song. These venues—places like Forbidden City, Kublai Khan, Chinese Skyroom, China Doll, and the New Shanghai Terrace Bowl, which were mostly in San Francisco—displayed the singing, dancing and overall entertainment talents of Chinese Americans.

Dong began collecting memorabilia from this era in 1985 as part of his research for the documentary, Forbidden City, U.S.A. Dong is also launching his new book, Forbidden City U.S.A.: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970 this month.

The exhibit runs April 12-July 6 at the Jewett Gallery at the San Francisco Main Library. The Center for Asian American Media is a co-sponsor of the exhibit.

Forbidden City postcard (1940s). From the Arthur Dong Collection, courtesy of DeepFocus Productions, Inc.

Forbidden City Happy Hour with Arthur Dong: Saturday, April 12. Join filmmaker, author and curator Arthur Dong for cocktails at the Chinese Historical Society of America as we celebrate his new book and exhibit. Books will be available for purchase and signing. CHSA is a co-sponsor of the exhibit. Chinese Historical Society Museum, 965 Clay Street, San Francisco CA 94108. Free. RSVP here.

Opening event: Sunday, April 13, Meet curator Arthur Dong with entertainment by the Grant Avenue Follies. Main Library, Koret auditorium, 1:00.

May 6: Author talk with Arthur Dong, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 6:00 pm

May 10 Chinatown Walking Tour with City Guides, 11:00 am. Reservations required, email tours@sfcityguides.org.

June 12: Open Books with Lisa See discussing her new book China Dolls, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 6:30 pm

Sponsored by San Francisco History Center, the Chinese Center at the San Francisco Public Library, the California Historical Society,the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library The Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University, Chinese Historical Society of America, Museum of Performance + Design, City Guides, Center for Asian American Media

Main photo caption: The Mei Lings, Jade Mei Ling and Jackie Mei Ling, perform at the Kubla Khan (1940s). From the Frances Chun Collection, courtesy of DeepFocus Productions, Inc.

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