Karaoke and cocaine: Has Shanghai discovered the secret to long life?

Karaoke and cocaine: Has Shanghai discovered the secret to long life?

Shanghainese are living longer, and young and old alike are enjoying every minute of the ride
Shanghai karaoke
It starts with karaoke, but it ends in dingy, drug-fueled mahjong dens with all the other pensioners.

Chinese milk might be tainted and China’s water pollution might be worse then originally thought, but Shanghainese are living longer, 81.73 years in fact, according to a report from the Shanghai Health Bureau released in Shanghai Daily (men are living an average of 79.42 years and women 84.06). This is up from 81.28 years recorded in 2008.

Xu Jianguang, director of the health bureau says these increases are “a direct result of health-care development and increased medical capabilities.”

But we've done our own research, and we can only draw one conclusion. It's down to karaoke, cocaine and mahjong -- apparently. Because while people are living longer, they're also living crazier, young and old. (OK, OK, they might be living longer in spite of, not because of, the craziness, but hey it's nice to speculate)

Adult fun

Certainly it doesn't look like you have to to be an ascetic, drinking gallons of green tea and practicing tai chi under waterfalls to make it past 80. The Shanghai Anti-Drug Commission reported this week that, “Drug abuse among [Shanghai’s] older population is becoming a new problem.”

The new report by the Anti-Drug Commission said that although teens and white-collar workers still form the bulk of the drug takers in the city, older residents are now asking them to share the stash.

Zheng Yuqing, the commission's spokesman, said that local police uncovered a significant increase of drug abuse among the older population last year although he didn’t say how many cases were involved.

Their drugs of choice are usually ketamine and cocaine, to keep them going while, wait for it, playing cards or mahjong all night.Yes, mahjong is what's pushing them over the edge.

The profile of an older drug user? Between 40 and 60, unemployed or retired and not well educated. Essentially they have a lot of time on their hands. Their drugs of choice are usually ketamine and cocaine, to keep them going while, wait for it, playing cards or mahjong all night. Yes, mahjong is pushing our grandmas and grandpas over the edge.

"The drug-taking mostly occurs among groups in card rooms, a place popular among the elderly where they can get together and play cards. The addicts are often friends who have known each other for years," Zheng said.

There were reportedly more than 48,000 registered drug addicts last year in Shanghai, up from 42,000 in 2008 and 8,000 in 1998.

Live hard, sing harder

And Shanghai's youth appear to be taking this hedonistic message from their elders to heart. Yesterday we reported that local police have made over 600 arrests in a recent KTV busts involving prostitution, gambling and drug dealing. But what the report didn’t say is that many of those busts might have been aimed at the city’s teens.

According to China Daily, Shanghai is “tightening its supervision of entertainment venues as more and more teenagers flock to karaoke clubs during school holidays for Spring Festival.” Clubs are (unsurprisingly) lax about checking patron’s ID -- no one should be allowed in under 18 -- since, as one KTV owner said, “We don't mind paying the fines for admitting under-aged customers. The fines are a small amount compared to the potential income."

The fact that the city's teens might need to head a little further out of town to have their fun (rumors are circulating that 'extreme' KTV venues (where certain dodgy events take place) are being pushed out past the ring road, a la pre-Olympics Beijing-style) probably won't deter them.

Shanghainese are living longer and enjoying the ride along the way.

A borough-bred Manhattanite, editor and writer Jessica Beaton lived in Shanghai for five years and has now moved to Hong Kong.

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