ONE hundred thousand fireworks lighted the sky over Shanghai on April 30, marking the grand opening of the 2010 World Expo. For the city’s many pajama wearers, it also signified the start of a nightmare.
After pumping $58 billion into staging this mega-event, which is expected to attract more than 70 million visitors over the next six months, city authorities started a campaign to suppress one of Shanghai’s most distinctive customs: wearing pajamas in public. Just as Beijing discouraged men from going shirtless during the Olympics, Shanghai wants everyone to wear “proper attire” for the Expo.
Catchy red signs reading “Pajamas don’t go out of the door; be a civilized resident for the Expo” are posted throughout the city. Volunteer “pajama policemen” patrol the neighborhoods, telling pajama wearers to go home and change. Celebrities and socialites appear on TV to promote the idea that sleepwear in public is “backward” and “uncivilized.”