Off the beaten track (or at least a 15 minute bus ride from the Longhua subway station), Dalang remains one of the manufacturing centers of Shenzhen as well as one of the few spaces where it is still possible to see container trucks of various sizes trundling about. The landscape itself is a dense mix of industrial parks, proper urban villages, collectively held property, and limited public and commercial property. In other words, the area retains much of its morphology from when Longhua was officially a market town (镇, 1986-2004) and the entire area was developed through rural institutions.
Nevertheless, the Dalang Commercial Center, itself a section of a larger industrial park symbolizes both Shenzhen’s larger de-instrialization and the turn to branded and internet based commerce. Although there is no Starbucks in the area (as there is just near the Longhua subway station), nevertheless, Micky D’s has already landed, and commercial activity is upper working class. In addition to “cheese heart coffee,” which is surprisingly tasty, it is also possible to buy the latest electronic toys and middle class fashion, as well as to sign children up for music classes and to have spa treatments.
Impressions of Dalang’s gentrifying landscape, below.