Images shot on Kodak Gold 200 in Yashica Electro 35 GSN
If there’s one thing Chinese city folk do well it’s constructing huge grey commercial buildings and then spending too many hours (in my opinion) per week in them.
If there’s another thing they do well though, it’s getting outdoors when the weather and opportunity present themselves and enjoying the green space too.
With plenty of parks in amongst the more commonly pictured concrete jungle of Shanghai, you’re never short of a place to go and join them.
And with the winter over, what better film to go capture some of those sunny scenes than Kodak Gold 200?
There may be some better ones, to be fair. But Gold 200 is what I went with here so that’s how I’m opening this blog post.
Xujiahui Park, Shanghai
Most visitors to Shanghai will head to the People’s Square area and believe it to be the city centre. While it geographically is, it does seem to be a place where more business is done with tourists than between locals.
Conversely, Xujiahui is an actual downtown business area to which it seems many tourists don’t go. I never notice it on any top ten things to do in Shanghai lists.
Aside from the Catholic cathedral that featured in Empire of the Sun (as did the pagoda at Longhua) and lots of shopping, there’s probably not that much reason to go there, especially when the city has so much else to offer.
Nestled in this real business district is Xujiahui park, which was built on the site of a former brick factory and completed in 2002.
Although landscaped with a man-made brook and an elevated walkway, there is still some history to be found there. The building that housed Pathé Records remains, as does a towering chimney from a former rubber factory.
I got shots of neither, concentrating instead on a few of the people there.
Another kind of square dancing
You’re not limited to parks for your recreation in Shanghai.
When the sun is out in the spring or autumn, or after it’s gone down in the summer, any square is fair game to be taken over by a troupe of dancing old ladies.
There’s usually a leader that everyone follows and a wheeled boombox blasting out some old folk tunes. Thankfully these aren’t in earshot of my apartment, and I’d soon be advocating for a silent disco if they ever became so.
While it’s good they’re staying active, the noise they bring is one reason some people don’t like the dancing grannies. Them taking up a lot of public space is another.
I still find it curious, to a degree, and it makes me think about how such an activity would go down back home in England. Not well, I’d imagine.
You’d have people, probably me included, complaining about the noise pollution within minutes. You’d also have people throwing ridicule at the ladies and, in the wrong place at the wrong time, possibly also lager.
Recreation with a film camera
Dancing in public is not something you’re going to catch me doing, and I’ll quickly get bored if I’m just sitting in a park without something else to occupy my mind.
So a lot of my outdoors recreation is done with a camera in hand. For a long time that was digital with vintage lenses. More recently it’s been with film.
The word recreation and its different meanings are very fitting here. You’ve got the one that people do in the park or by dancing. The one that’s like leisure.
Then you’ve got the one that’s like reproduce. Like how images of the scenes I came across have been recreated on the Kodak Gold 200 I shot them on.
Apparently, recreation in the first sense comes from the practice of using leisure to reinvigorate oneself, which links it nicely to the second one.
If you do photography as a way to relax, you’re using the recreation (of scenes) as recreation (leisure activity) to lead to the recreation (rebuilding) of your mental well-being.
I think, short of putting an Xzibit meme here, there’s not a great deal else I can add to that.