The Shelter is one of a handful of former bomb shelters finding new life as commercial venues, ranging from clubs to clothing shops and even wine sellers open up in Shanghai, China.
“It is gloomy and clammy, and very unique,” said Kis Chen, a 29-year-old office worker who hunts around town for exotic clubbing scenes.
Hundreds of thousands of bomb shelters were built across China in the 1960s and 1970s to prepare for possible air raids from the then-Soviet Union amidst a souring relationship between the two communist countries.
It’s unclear how many of the underground shelters were built in Shanghai. But the local government says there are about 2,000 in the Xuhui district, a mix of commercial buildings and the elegance of the old French concession, where The Shelter is located.
The shelters were let out by the government after tensions with the Soviet Union eased in the mid 1970s. There is no specific figure on how many have been converted, but it may be only a small fraction of the total.
For many such places, the unusual structure of the shelters – as well as their underground location – is used to good advantage.