Forbidden City Nightclub


The Chinatown we see today is not the same as the Chinatown that existed pre-1906. After the Earthquake destroyed the original architecture, anti-Chinese sympathizers went through great lengths to push the community to Hunters Point. As an effort to maintain its location, community leaders redesigned the layout of the neighborhood. These leaders created a Chinatown with red angled rooves and various other “oriental” signifiers in order re-create the space as a tourist destination. Using existing racist sentiments of Chinese otherness and “exoticism,” these leaders were nevertheless able to hold onto their real estate. With this reimagining of the area came the introduction of Chinese nightclubs. Nevada born entrepreneur Charlie Low started the first of these cocktail bars. Eventually, he created Forbidden City nightclub, which featured all Chinese entertainers, near Union Square. Noel Toy was a popular entertainer at Forbidden City, whose nude dancing ultimately brought fame to the nightclub. Check out the below spread from Beauty Paradise Magazine for an example of the kinds of narratives that dominated at Forbidden City.