East Meets West: Chinatown Nightclubs

July 15, 2020 Webinar YouTube

The East Meets West: Chinatown Nightclub webinar, was our first co-hosted session between BACGG and CHCP … and broke all previous attendee records. Attendee’s came from all parts of the nation (including Hawaii), plus folks from Canada, Japan and England to laugh, listen and learn from the daring dancing dolls, Coby Yee and Cynthia Yee, and Calvin Fong, son of a nightclub owner. Click below for the complete 1 hour 49 minute webinar:

Ron Chan moderator, Calvin Fong keynote, Cynthia Yee and Coby Yee panelists

Table of Contents: 3 parts to this webinar

  1. Cocktail Lounge/Waiting Room
  2. Calvin’s Keynote Presentation (14:26 – 1::00:55) click to play
    • Calvin’s Presentation as pdf click
  3. Panel Discussion (1:0:56 – 1:48:00) click to play

Abstract & Biographies: click

Miscellaneous Information and Questions Answered click

This webinar explores a little known, but exciting topic, in Chinese-American history: Chinese-American nightclubs.  In particular, the presentation will focus on the nightclubs owned by a well-known herbalist, Fong Wan of Oakland, and how he eventually turned a bankrupt restaurant into a first-class nightclub.  Many of the performers (singers, dancers, magicians, acrobats, comedians, etc) were Chinese with headliner names; like, the “Chinese Frank Sinatra,” or the “Chinese Ginger Rogers.”  Many performers were 2nd generation Asians coming out of the Great Depression and who loved entertaining but were shut out from performing live on American stage or in the movies.  The Chinese nightclubs offered a venue for them to show their many talents and opened opportunities that they could not realize otherwise.  The clubs became extremely popular during the 1940s-early 1960s and were places to see and be seen by the Hollywood elite.

Please Support Us

Please consider helping support our webinars to preserve Chinese American heritage, so it may live into the future. For more information:

Bay Area Chinese Genealogy Group click to support

  • Ron Chan, Executive Director BACGG

Chinese Historical & Cultural Project click to support

  • David Yick, Board President, CHCP

Thank you for your consideration.

1 thought on “East Meets West: Chinatown Nightclub – Youtube Link”

  1. Thank you, Calvin Fong for your Oakland family stories of your father’s successful businesses, herbal shop and Chinese restaurant in the 20s to the70s. The SF Chronicle article showed the picture of the Fong Wan Herb Co. building outside of Chinatown. When was it built and is it still standing today? Has it ever been designated as a historical building? It was so interesting to see an only Chinese building outside of SF Chinatown as a kid. Do you remember the interior of the building similar to any Chinese herbalist store?

    One of the article stated the health benefits of eating water chestnuts and the New Shanghai Cafe had a dish with sliced water chestnuts with minced pork on the menu.


Leave a Comment