Forbidden City, USA

Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970


Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970

April 12 – July 6, 2014

Jewett Gallery, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street, Civic Center
San Francisco 94102

Exhibition Photos:

Opening Day Photos:

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Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936-1970 showcases filmmaker Arthur Dong‘s treasure trove of memorabilia chronicling the magic and glamour of San Francisco’s internationally celebrated Chinese American nightclub scene and its performers. Dong started his collection in 1985 when he began the research for his award-winning documentary on this little-known chapter of entertainment history, Forbidden City, U.S.A., and has since then become arguably the foremost aficionado on the topic. The Oscar®-nominated filmmaker serves as the curator for the exhibition, which also serves as the launch for his new book, Forbidden City U.S.A.: Chinatown Nightclubs, 1936-1970

Related events:

Club-Shanghai-fine-food-alwaysAPRIL 12, 5-7pm: “Forbidden City Happy Hour with Arthur Dong.” Join filmmaker, author & curator Arthur Dong for cocktails at the CHSA Museum as we celebrate his new book and exhibit. Books will be available for purchase and signing. CHSA is a co-sponsor of the exhibit. Chinese Historical Society Museum, 965 Clay Street, San Francisco CA 94108. FREE. Info & RSVP:

April 13, Opening Program: Meet curator and author Arthur Dong, with entertainment by former nightclub performers, the Grant Avenue Follies and Jimmy “Jay” Borges. Main Library, Koret auditorium, 1:00. Dong’s new book will be available.

Grant-Ave-Follies Jimmy-(Jay)-Borges,-now-and-then,-at-Forbidden-City-ca.-1959

Forbidden City, USA - HardcoverMay 6: Author talk
with Arthur Dong, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 6:00 pm. Dong will discuss his new book Forbidden City U.S.A.: Chinatown Nightclubs, 1936-1970. A book signing follows.

May 10: Chinatown Walking Tour with City Guides, 11:00 am. Reservations required, email

China-Dolls-book-coverJune 12: “Open Books” with Lisa See discussing her new book China Dolls, Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 6:30 pm. See’s novel is set in Chinese American nightclubs in the 1930s and 40s.