night markets


night markets
(yeshi)
Night markets mushroomed throughout China in 1980s due to the economic reform. While ‘market’ had been synonymous with ‘capitalist decadence’, the new policy unleashed the suppressed business instinct of the Chinese. Pedlars and stall-keepers sprang up everywhere. Local governments organized them in centralized locations, allowing them to open late into the night so that people could enjoy themselves after work. At a time when entertainment options were few, a night market was a big attraction, particularly with the resurfacing of traditional foods that had vanished for more than a decade. Available also were cheap fashions marketed by daoyer, a neologism for ‘greedy resellers’.
Things changed after 2000. Night markets began to close because of economic progress and the ensuing social changes.
Air-conditioning was no longer a luxury. Video, CDs, DVDs and cable TV became standard home entertainment. TGI Fridays, Starbucks, KFC and McDonald’s were in walking distance. Internet cafés, teahouses, bars, cinemas, concert halls, dance clubs and indigenous Chinese food chains opened late or continuously (see fast food (Chinese and Western clones)). The night market as a way of night life has been definitely marginalized by other options, but the idea of the night market is far from dead. It still thrives in such forms as Curio Yeshi in Beijing, Cultural Yeshi in Yichang, and Upholstery Yeshi in Chongqing. Traditional night markets that feature local eateries, moreover, are still alive in historical cities like Kaifeng and tourist spots like Xi’an and Xinjing. The night market off Wangfujing Street in Beijing has become an established tradition. And then there is the night market at Longshan Temple in Taipei!
YUAN HAIWANG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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