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Insider: Shanghai

THE ART OF SHOPPING Socialites from across Asia are flocking to X (181 Tai Cang Rd.; 86-21/6328-7111) in Xin Tian Di to snap up sumptuous silk-and-feather bags, scarves, and evening wear by Anthony Xavier Edwards, a transplanted Australian who's as gleefully eccentric as his creations. ¶ They're also checking out the exhibitions by China's leading contemporary artists at ShangART (2A Gao Lan Rd., Fuxing Park; 86-21/6359-3923). For experimental work, head over to BizArt (610 Huai Hai Xi Rd.; 86-21/3226-0709), housed in a factory that once produced tannery equipment. ¶ Plaza 66 (1266 Nan Jing Xi Rd.; 86-21/6279-0910), Citic Square (1168 Nan Jing Xi Rd.; 86-21/6218-0180), and Times Square (99 Huai Hai Zhong Rd.; 86-21/6391-0800) provide a tamer shopping experience. They're dominated by the likes of Gucci, Prada, Armani, and Chanel, though they also show Asian designers and include Taiwanese actress Loretta Hui-Shan Yang's Liuli Gongfang stores, which sell colored crystal objets. ¶ Nanjing Road, Shanghai's once famous shopping street, still blazes with neon at night but is geared to local trade. Style mavens instead peruse the boutiques along Huai Hai Zhong Road.

AFTER DARK Pu-J's at the Grand Hyatt is a perennial favorite, with a DJ and live band in the Dance Zone, Western recording artists in the Music Room, karaoke suites, even a wine bar. A young crowd packs the disco nightly. ¶ Pegasus (Bldg. 2-F, Golden Bell Plaza, 98 Huai Hai Zhong Rd.; 86-21/5385-8187) teems with partyers from Hong Kong and Taiwan. ¶ The Cotton Club (1428 Huai Hai Zhong Rd; 86-21/6437-7110) has long been Shanghai's best place for blues and jazz, but it now has some competition from Blues & Jazz (158 Mao Ming Rd.; 86-21/6437-5280), opened after the city bulldozed another of the owner's nightspots to create a park by Suzhou Creek.

YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN SHANGHAI WHEN
¶ You step onto the city's much-touted people-mover and psychedelic lights start flashing. The Bund-to-Pudong shuttle is outfitted with a sound-and-light show tacky enough to make any self-respecting investment banker blush.
¶ You bite into a tiny pork dumpling and are sprayed by hot, savory juices. These are xiao long bao, served in bamboo steamers: dip them in brown vinegar before eating.
¶ Your bartender, who's been speaking what sounds like perfectly inflected Shanghainese, turns out to be Japanese. There are so many Japanese now living in Shanghai that they've created a cottage industry of homestyle bars and sushi restaurants.
¶ Buildings look as if they've been transported from other cities or, occasionally, distant planets. There's a faux Petronas Towers, a mini—Hong Kong Convention Center, a Bank of China clone, and the chartreuse-and-steel Pearl Oriental TV Tower, which was apparently inspired by Star Trek.

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