by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Chinese police raided the popular Q Bar in Shanghai at 1 a.m. on April 3, arresting more than 60 patrons and employees.
According to the English-language newspaper Shanghai Daily, police were responding to reports of live 'sex shows' at the bar.
On Q Bar's blog, an advertisement said the bar was holding a 'table dance party' on Saturday night, April 2.
The blog showed pictures of a man, identified as 'GoGoBoy,' dancing on a table in his underwear.
Located on the first floor of the building at No. 1029 Zhongshan Road S., the bar is just a block away from the local police station.
According to Shanghai Daily, witnesses at the scene told police that they often saw bar patrons naked in public.
'Migrant workers living in a temporary shelter on the rooftop of the building told Shanghai Daily that they often saw naked men on the roof, drinking beer, chatting loudly, and even having sex.
'They didn't appear to notice that the migrant workers were living there.'
Shanghai Daily did not note whether the migrant workers were the ones who had summoned police to the scene.
Bar DJ Steven Bao, one of those arrested, told Shanghai Daily that he believed the fierce competition among local Gay bars had induced another bar to lodge a complaint with the police.
Many Gay Chinese, like Bao, adopt Western-style first names, so they cannot be readily identified by relatives if they are mentioned in the press.
After his release, Bao tweeted on Sina Weibo blog that for nearly 12 hours he 'was kept in custody like a dog with no food or drinks.'
Many of the arrestees tweeted updates and protests to Sina Weibo and to Shangaiist blog. Shangaiist is a popular English-language blog founded in 2003 by the New York-based Gothamist LLC.
According to Shanghaiist:
'Detainees were not stripped [as some initial reports said], but many did not have access to their jackets which were back in the bar.
'Among the detainees were a handful of female bar patrons.
'They were kept mostly in three rooms, one had about 40-over people, one had 20-over people, and the third had about five or six bar employees, including the go-go boy dancing that night.
'They were not made to undergo a urine test, so this was not a drug raid. But they did have their ID numbers and pictures taken, and were questioned one by one. Most of the questions appeared to be pointed at the go-go boy act: 'Did he take it all off? Were his genitals visible? Were bar patrons inserting bills into his thong?'
According to arrestees, the five or so Caucasian bar patrons were not arrested, but police accidentally arrested two citizens of another Asian country.
'[My partner] and i were there last nite also and were also brought to the police station! but we kept saying we were foreigners in English and they let us go after about an hour 'phew' but police attitude was really quite bad,' one of them posted on Shanghaiist.
'I did not see any violence when we were there but there WAS a lot of pushing and shoving.'
Franck Crouvezier, a French restaurant consultant, was one of the lucky foreigners to have been spared the ride to the police station.
'You know, I've been through a couple of raids now in Shanghai and Hong Kong and elsewhere, and I've never seen anything so heavy-handed on such a tiny bar before!' Crouvezier posted on Shanghaiist.
'Yes, it was a sexy show, but it certainly wasn't a sex show. People were just there having drinks, and you could totally have been there without knowing there was a show going on, and the next thing you know, you're in a police station. This was just way over the top!' Crouvezier added.
Another man who said he was a customer in the bar blogged on Sina Weibo that even customers who had been leaving the bar when police arrived were stopped and taken to the police station.
Several arrestees said police offered to let them go if they signed statements corroborating the official version of events.
'When the computer printout finally came, it was just as I expected,' one arrestee posted on Shanghaiist.
'The details related to the second dance performance were not what I said at all. I had said, 'I was drinking with friends, with my back towards the bar, so I didn't notice what was going on.' I said, 'I'm unable to sign this.' Then the policeman told me to go back to the room and continue waiting.'
Other arrestees complained that police singled out a Gay bar for exceptional treatment.
'I just don't understand what's up with the police,' a bar patron identified by Shanghaiist as 'Bobo' wrote. 'If you can have so many bars around town with go-go girls dancing in bikinis, why can't a Gay bar have go-go boys dancing in briefs?'
'How unlucky was I, man! I didn't even know there was going to be a show that night,' Bobo added.
'In fact, I had only barely arrived with my friends before the police rushed in and escorted us unceremoniously to the police station. And to add insult to injury, they didn't even do anything with us till the next day. What the hell.'
According to Shanghaiist, one of the arrestees has indicated a 'strong desire' to sue the Huangpu Police's Xiaodongmen station, and said he would be on the lookout for other arrestees to join him in a possible class-action suit.
Shanghaiist did not name the man, but said that he is a 'well-known writer with a large following who moves actively in music and fashion circles.'
'As someone who is completely out about his sexuality to his family and friends, he feels that he has nothing to lose' by suing the police, Shanghaiist said.
Asked what the objective of such a suit would be, he replied, 'My ultimate goal is really just to ensure that such things do not happen in the future ever again.'
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