For some reason, China is the last place I would think to find vinyl stores. However, with the recent rise of bands coming out of Bejing, it's no surprise that vinyl is finding a niche. Although there are many more Bejing based bands, the music scene seems to be growing in Shanghai too. It's hard to find current information in English about Shanghai, but with a little time on Google, I found out about a great vinyl place called Uptown Record Store.
Since Google Maps doesn't work very well on that side of the globe, it was a bit difficult to get directions. The cab driver was a little puzzled when I showed him the address (上海平武路115号, 近幸福路). I guess tourists rarely go to that part of town. The cab driver was able to do a search on Baidu Maps with his phone. I was dropped off on a small, dirty side street crammed small shops and open markets. It took a while to find the door, because the store is located under ground in an old bomb shelter.
Going through the front door leads you down a ramp and past someone's tiny bedroom with the door open and a TV blasting a Chinese soap opera. It's hard not to feel like you're intruding. This place was definitely built to last. Walls, floors, and ceiling are bare concrete. There was also some sort of bike storage room. Turning left at the hall, you'll eventually find a red door that leads to a stairway down, more stuff painted red, stickers and posters on the walls; okay we found the right place.
You'll go through a really thick steel blast door at the foot of the stairs, then everything is red. If you've ever been in a cellar or a basement, you'll know what it smells like. There are beautiful red hallways leading to several empty rooms, one with a bar, one with what looks like a pop-up shop, and finally one with crates of vinyl.
Apparently the owner, DJ Sacco Vanzetti, rents out the space for short periods of time or hosts events. He's pretty laid back and will give suggestions or play a record if you ask nicely. There's a healthy selection of 7 inch records (more than most stateside stores), and a good amount of punk, metal, electronic, and dance 12 inch records.
There's also another sister store, Uptown Records n' Beer (永福路131号, 近复兴路), that opened recently near Fuxing Lu. When I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, the shop was closed. Luckily Fuxing Lu is a sort of Chinese hipster street, so there was plenty to see. I came back after a quick beer sampling at Boxing Cat Brewery down the street.
The outside advertises imported beer and cigarettes. There was a light selection of vinyl, and some nice imported beer as well. There wasn't anything special in terms of beer (California spoils me). However, I could see this being a welcome treat for the Shanghai locals or the occasional expat looking for a taste of home. This place is pretty new, so hopefully things get fleshed out at this location a little more.
These two shops were a great find, and I plan on visiting again on my next trip to Shanghai. I'm excited to see how the music scene develops here over the next few years.