Kong Xiaoyin (right) from Northeast China said she joined the group to help her family. [Photo by Chen Zhongqiu/China Daily]
A small theater is located near the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai. When it was built in the 1930s, the venue was known as Paradise Theater, but today it is being used exclusively for shows by the all-women group SNH48.
The group, which started in 2012, has since grown into more than 100 members divided into different areas of interest in singing and dancing. Each sub-group presents at least one public performance in a week that allows the young women to meet their otaku fans (nerds who prefer to stay home and play video games). This is also a platform for the women to become popular.
The limited space on the stage allows only 16 to perform at one time in competition gigs. The ones that draw the most cheers from the audience likely perform better than their peers and get the chance to move on to the next stage of a competition as well as music deals outside of the theater.
To a large extent, fans determine the fate of the women. From their weekly performances at the venue to the annual general ranking by fans online, only the best can succeed in this game.