National Geographic : 2010 Mar
• THE SECRET WORLD of the old Shanghai bomb shelter seems to exist in a parallel universe. On the sun-splashed street above, migrant laborers slurp down rice and tofu lunches, while clusters of o ce workers in crisp white shirts walk past the small sign on the side- walk. But in the dark recess behind a display of foreign-brand toilet seats, a young woman descends a staircase into a place she knows only as "0093." 23, shreds chords at the speed of Shanghai's maglev train. Sammy sings, and her bangs op up and down in double time. e daughter of a traditional Shanghainese opera singer, she is taking her family's musical talent in a new direction. "We are newborn birds, but we have big dreams," Sammy cries. "Let the whole world hear us sing." , a pulse that makes it move. In Shanghai, one of the fastest growing megacities in the world, it's easy to get lost in the relentless percussion of jackhammers and pile drivers, bulldozers and building cranes. e pro- liferating skyscrapers and construction sites are part of a stunning metamorphosis that Shanghai will show o as host of Expo 2010, the contem- porary version of the World's Fair, which runs from May through October. e rise of China's only truly global city, however, is driven not by machines but by an urban culture that follows its own beat---embracing the new and the foreign even as it seeks to reclaim its past glory. Shanghai natives form an urban tribe, set apart from the rest of China by language, cus- toms, architecture, food, and attitudes. eir culture, often called haipai (Shanghai style), emerged from the city's singular history as a meeting point of foreign merchants and Chi- nese migrants. But over the years it has become a hybrid that confounds the very idea of East Passing through a pair of metal blast doors, the woman---22-year-old Sheng Jiahui, who goes by the nickname "Sammy"---moves deep into dimly lit corridors. e bunker glows an unnat- ural shade of green. In its perpetual twilight, 0093 still evokes the deadening claustrophobia of war and communist revolution that snu ed out Shanghai's swinging heyday, when the min- gling of East and West transformed the city into the Paris of the Orient. A door cracks open, and a blast of electric gui- tar erupts into the corridor. Inside the small room, under a poster of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix posing as Uncle Sam, four young Shanghainese women---the other members of Sammy's punk rock band, Black Luna---are starting to jam. It is a serendipitous twist of history: e bunker, once the symbol of a wounded and cowering society, has become a breeding ground for Shanghai's music scene. e rehearsal rooms at 0093---the moniker is a phonetic combination of its street name and number---have helped incu- bate more than a hundred local bands, reinvig- orating a culture that now, as before, blurs the East-West divide. Sammy sheds her jacket as the band lets loose. Orange, 20, pounds on the drums; Juice, Brook Larmer is a former Shanghai bureau chief for Newsweek. Fritz Ho mann lived in the city for 13 years and studied Mandarin at Shanghai University.