We sent our best cross-dressing researcher out into the dark hinterlands of (one version of) the Chinese Tinder, a little thing called Tan Tan, to tell us what it’s really like. He brought back more than we bargained for. Consider this a fair warning; some of you may be offended by what you see below.



Imagine it’s a million years from now and the world’s scientific community is taken aback by an extraordinary discovery: Tan Tan. It looks like a dating app, apparently, something people used in ancient times to reach out for potential sexual partners (before multi-sensory pornography was invented and provided a superior alternative).

It’s never been clear for our future historians what exactly we looked like, how we lived, and how we went extinct. But now, with this discovery, they might finally be able to unravel the enigma of the first people that walked the Earth.

Let us help those future scientists. Let us help them crack the code, I mean, think of Tan Tan as the Rosetta Stone of the ages to come. In this great Tan Tan sea of self-flattering pictures, let us come up with a helpful classification. Just for the sake of science, obviously. Not to take the piss out of people on a dating app, because that would be just mean.

The Bellyfie

What you see here is a belly selfie, more commonly known as a “bellyfie” (I really thought I was going to coin the phrase “belfie” here, but apparently it already exists. Next time…) Girls traditionally take that picture to strengthen their spirit during the course of a hunger strike.

The Nature Lover

Now this girl, it’s not that she doesn’t like the city, but she has more of a connection with nature. At times she gets overwhelmed by seasonal frenzies, and when the cherry trees start blooming she really needs to get out there. Spring can bring complications.

The Six-Pack

Basically the same as the bellyfie: some men also work hard to achieve the ideal body shape. And when a 6-pack matches with a bellyfie on Tan Tan, they go on a date together. This means the mating parade is on, and that’s what we call belly dancing.

The Accidental Six-Pack

Now, this happens to all of us. One is quietly lying in bed or coming out of the shower, six-pack and all, looking handsome, and someone surreptitiously snaps a picture of us. But while this is always unpleasant, of course, there really is no reason not to post that picture afterward.

The Tormented Artist

No one ever really understood her (or him) but she doesn’t blame anyone. She’s passed all those hard feelings already. In this picture, she’s barely aware of the raw urban beauty that surrounds her. She looks at the camera the way she looks at the world, with mocking resignation, wearing this new overcoat she likes, which she got for her nineteenth birthday last week.

The Yoga Instructor

You see girls lying flat on a big inflatable ball in a tight outfit, boldly standing on their hands or doing the splits… Swiping through Tan Tan sometimes feels like China should have won more medals in the Olympics. Or maybe it’s just to remind us that some people are better at beating city stress. Namaste.

The King of the Gym

Another Olympian, this guy can lift stuff. But if you ask him it’s not about the muscles, it’s all about the brain. You have to be iron-willed. So you can lift stuff.

The Pet Lover

Here are future historians are going to have a hard time figuring out why so many people like to pose with their pets on a dating app. But the animals are cute. It might just add to your profile that extra bit of cuteness you need to find the one out there. This is called idea association, like someone who would wear a life jacket on his resume photo to nail that summer job on a sea cruise.

Those Who Use That FaceU App to Add Whiskers or Bunny Ears to Their Face

Because why not simply look like a pet?

The Hidden Face

She (or he) won’t let you see her face. She’s actively sought by the police. She’s underaged. She has a psychotic boyfriend. Maybe she doesn’t even have a face.

The Gold Digger

Girls you see sunbathing on a yacht, posing next to a Lamborghini, sipping champagne on the Bund… Well, gold diggers, but I shouldn’t call them that. What do I know about those girls? Who am I to judge, anyway? They’re just people. They dream. They grieve. They too sometimes wonder about the meaning of life. Some people just prefer to do it while sunbathing on a yacht.

The Gentleman

Some guys just have it. It’s not even the places they go to or the friends they have. They’re like heavy celestial objects: they bend space around them. Their very presence makes their surroundings look awesome.

The Plastic Surgery

Big fishy eyes, pointy chin, augmented breasts… This is a different species of glossy, inflated, ever-evolving creatures scattered around the city, not unlike the Pokémon.

The Guy Who Wears Makeup

Yes, yes, it makes some of us laugh today. But it’s like everything new and edgy, it takes a while before people dig into it. Think about skinny jeans, e-cigarettes, kick scooters for adults… Even online dating. Meanwhile, and before it becomes the norm, the key is just to be casual about it.


When the future scientists uncover this cipher to Tan Tan, they will put their best anthropologists, psychologists and even philosophers on it. Because of course, scientists can postulate all day about what Tan Tan is. Our scientists already do. Our philosophers though…maybe those of the future can finally answer the question that ours cannot;


(Besides getting laid, of course.)



by Alexandre Gobin

Photos by Lucy Lu. Thanks to MOB Gym for letting us use their facilities.

Author: Enjoy Shanghai

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