"Courtesans appeared in various theatres and eating houses. Rich gentlemen showed them off in smart restaurants, opera houses, theatres, gaming houses, dance halls and nightclubs, which was quite an unusual sight, because couples who behaved freely with each other had never before been able to do so in public. Many popular publications, magazines and newspapers followed the fashions worn by the most important courtesans, and reported every detail. With their huabang, 'flower or beauty competitions', they were the centre of interest and their photographs circulated around the city. People gossiped about their social activities and problems and all kinds of stories about them were published in novels, with or without illustrations. The public display of courtesans, their commercial world of entertainment, and the explosively advancing media of Shanghai had an enormous influence on the wishes and consciousness of society. Together these elements became the driving force behind the cultural and social changes in the city, which in the end would spread throughout China."