Taiwan: The Gentrification of Shih-Da night market

Shih-Da night market is one of the most famous night markets in Taipei. (“Shih-Da”(師大) is the abbreviation of National Taiwan Normal University(國立台灣師範大學) in Chinese. The night market is right next to the university.) Its own exotic character is quite different from other night markets. This is because, for decades, many international students study Chinese and live in the neighborhood of the National Taiwan Normal University. They bring their home culture and combine them with local characteristics. Liang-lou Han, a famous Taiwanese writer, who started her business recently. Nearby the Shih-Da night market, she opened a cafe which named South Village[zh]. She wrote an article to express her expectation in the business.

In this article, Walking in the South Village[zh], Liang-lou Han says,

希望透過南村落未來的努力,大商圈可以換掉這個過份商業化的名字,而以南村South Village的面貌問世。畢竟對所有在這一帶居住、活動、玩耍的人而言,位居台北市南區的這塊充滿人文氣息與波希米亞藝術風味的地方已經越來越有紐約東村East Village的味道了。

The name of this place, Shi-Da night market, is too commercial, and I wish it could be replaced by “South Village”. After all, for the people who live, exercise, and play here, this place is like the Easy Village of New York, filled with humanity and Bohemian flavor.

People who agree with Han, like Mei-Chun, mentions[zh],


Maybe because I do not grow up in Taipei, therefore, for me, the old Taipei city and streets are just as strange as any other foreign cities. I develop an interest in this city and want to take a peek, but not because the identification. I just have nothing to do. But G says more directly: ‘It's just Shih-Da night market, nothing special!!’ Based on the passion to the culture, I still want to controvert his argument. We really need these people to do something to protect or remind us the memory of the city.

But for Wreacca[zh], who has lived in this area for more than ten years, it is another story. He points out,


For me, the Shih-Da night market is Shih-Da night market. My English is so poor and I don't understand what South Village means. These middle-aged people are dilettantism and capricious. Even the name of Shih-Da night market is commercial, how about “South Village”?! It is just another marketing strategy!! I admit that people may have a little more imagination to “South Village,” but it still sounds so weird especially after reading the article written by Han. People really have very different interpretations and understaning towards the same object.

Kenshin121 starts his argument with East Village in New York. In his opinion[zh],

簡而言之,沒有Greenwich Village,沒有Soho,沒有劇場(BlueMan Group演出的Astor Place Theatre就在East Village附近),沒有日本蛋糕、sushi、拉麵、章魚燒、居酒屋跟燒肉店,沒有St. Mark's 書店,沒有才情洋溢的藝術家與多元文化在東村附近彙集相遇,那也不過就是貴學校的hip學生與教授們居住的地方。

In short, without Greenwich Village, Soho, Astor Place Theater, Japanese Cake, Sushi, Japanese Gourmet, St. Mark's Bookstore, artists, and multi-culture, the East Village is only a living area for the brownstone students and professors.

這跟師大夜市的窮學生們(不論台灣or外國學生)隨遇而安的求學生活與安慰外國小朋友的食物文化交流一點都不像好嗎? 殊不知政大書城是以折扣大聞名,但是東村的St. Mark's書店是以原價怪書多聞名?

The life of East Village is SO quite different to that in the Shih-Da night market. It is the place where poor students (local and international included) do culture exchange and enjoy their school lives. While bookstores in the night market are known for discount books, St. Mark's Bookstore in East Village is full of unusual books with no discounts at all.

From marketing perspective, macdog[zh] has some tips of cultural marketing. He says,

1. 找人圍事是必要的。不單是募款的需求,那頂多募個一兩次就乾了,這裡推動的是善意的「文化」延伸,文人雅士莫不以參與這個劃地盤的行動為榮。
2. 商業拉抬是必要的。透過共享商業繁榮的吸子,納入附近商家的參與,既然在同一條船上,堆動同一個理念就合理化了。
3. 給人上台是必要的。辦活動就是要搞熱場子,不要自己一個人玩完,場子搭了,就是要給其他大腕也有上台表演,說唱個兩句的機會,互相捧個面子人場。
4. 現成便宜是必要的。用既有的資源和發展,重新制定遊戲規。離了現成的都會區另創一片天是事倍功半,所以選了師大夜市來正名是聰明的。

1. Help from others is necessary. People are needed not just for fund-raising (because what you can get is limited). If you are promoting and extending the culture, scholars will be more than willing to participate.
2. Business operation is necessary. When nearby shops are all involved, you will gain legitimacy to promote a idea.
3. Giving credits to others is necessary. All events need participants. Invite every “influential person” to get on the stage and say a few words. It's beneficial to both sides.
4. Using existing resources is necessary. Redefine the rules with materials available now. If you leave urban area, much more efforts would be needed to achieve the same goal. Renaming Shih-Da night market is a smart choice.

To ordinary people who are not able to open a shop or marketing, however, Shi-Da has long been a good place for foods. What Wraecca[zh] and we care the most is:


There are more clothes shops but fewer food vendors now.

originally written by swpave in Chinese

1 comment

  • This article is interesting somehow, yet quite confusing. Where is the point/punch line? The Shida Nightmarket is surely changing and becoming more or less ‘gentrified, so are all the other nightmarkets in Taibei. 士林夜市 for example is now more of a series of increasingly expensive open-air boutiques, and nothing like the old nightmarket I used to enjoy visiting 10 yrs ago. But so what? Times change, and so do places as real estate becomes increasingly expensive and people in the area become more affluent. It seems to me that the attempt to make the Shida area seem more glamorous than it actually is (to ‘gentrify’ it with a fancy name) is one form of nostalgia-marketing, and talk of keeping it the same is but another. Which one is more ‘authentic’ and keeps to the spirit of the area? Who knows, but I will still call it the 師大夜市 in any case. (Note, they changed the name of Mucha/木柵 to Wenshan/文山 many yrs. ago but people still refer to the area as Mucha today). 

    Also, I’m sorry to say that this is terribly written and/or translated. With all due respect, the quality of GVO articles on the Taiwan have really deteriorated recently.

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