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Having a blast in old bomb shelters

Friday, June 08, 2012 - 01:59

June 8 - A nightclub and a wine cellar are among the occupants of some of Shanghai's old underground bomb shelters. Paul Chapman reports.

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Deep below the busy streets of Shanghai 'The Shelter' night-club is open for business. Its name is particularly apt. It's the latest occupant of what was one of the many bomb shelters built in the city during the 1969 and 70s. Thousands were excavated as fears of air raids by the then Soviet Union grew in the face of souring relations between the two communist countries. Today those who've followed the dark tunnels to its dimly lit night-spot interior say it's a friendly kind of place to be. SOUNDBITE: BARRY LU, SHANGHAI RESIDENT, SAYING (Mandarin): "I wanted to come last week because I liked the music. When I was walked through the tunnel the place was already rocking." Founder and co-owner Gary Wang has another reason to find the bunker particularly appealing. SOUNDBITE: GARY WANG, FOUNDER AND CO-OWNER OF 'THE SHELTER' SAYING (Mandarin): "The most important thing is that we can play the music we like in this place." Most of the bomb shelters have now gone, demolished to make way for Shanghai's sprawling subway network. Historian Jin Dalu says those that survive are let out by the government. SOUNDBITE: JIN DALU, HISTORY PROFESSOR AT SHANGHAI ACADEMY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, SAYING (Mandarin): "For the five to six per cent of the shelters that are still useable today they have to be of a certain standard. They have electricity and water supplies and proper ventilation. You can have an office in there or stage small events." Local wine distributor Ruby Red is another occupant of the old bomb shelters. The firm says the naturally cool temperature and relatively moist atmosphere is ideal to store its products. The shelters were built all those years ago for protection from bombs that never fell. More than half a century on they're finding a whole new lease of life in a very different world political climate. Paul Chapman, Reuters

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Having a blast in old bomb shelters

Friday, June 08, 2012 - 01:59