HONG KONG — Dua Lipa, a 23-year-old British pop star, was crooning and grooving on stage. The crowd cheered, some waving signs with the singer’s name glowing pink.
But what started as a jubilant night out for young music fans in Shanghai descended into violence when security workers pulled people from their seats.
Video footage circulated of security guards shoving and dragging concertgoers from the venue. Music fans across China expressed outrage, describing the removal as unwarranted.
Yixuan Zhang, 27, had been so excited about the concert that he ordered a telescope online to help him see the stage more clearly.
But his most vivid memory from the evening happened offstage: A pack of security guards approached a dancing woman; as she reached out with a giddy embrace, one of the guards threw her to the ground. A widely circulated video of the events showed several people shouting at the guards in shock.
“They were not there maintaining order,” Mr. Zhang said. “They were there creating chaos.”
In a statement posted on her Twitter account, Ms. Lipa said that she was “horrified” by the events that unfolded. During the concert on Wednesday, Ms. Lipa was visibly upset; in tears, she said that she wanted to “create a really safe environment” for fans to “really enjoy themselves.”
A mid-show announcement warned audience members not to stand on their chairs, but concertgoers said that many of those who were removed had been standing and dancing on the ground.
Videos showed packs of security guards pulling and dragging fans, shouting back when audience members protested.
Some social media users claimed that a few fans were removed for waving rainbow flags, which were then confiscated.
Writing on Twitter, Ms. Lipa seemed to refer to this, saying: “I will stand by you all for your love and beliefs and I am proud and grateful that you felt safe enough to show your pride at my show.”
A spokeswoman said Ms. Lipa had nothing to add to the statement and the entertainment company that produced the concert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but a conservative culture persists that looks down on people in same-sex relationships, and gay rights groups often run into trouble with the Chinese authorities. In April, Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media sites, was forced to retract a promise to delete posts with gay themes. In May, two women wearing rainbow badges to show support for a gay rights event were beaten up in Beijing.
This concert comes at a moment when Western pop stars are seeking out audiences in China. Early this year, Jessie J participated in a televised Chinese reality singing contest for unknown amateurs similar to the Voice, and won. In 2017, Luis Fonzi released a Mandarin version of “Despacito” with the Singaporean pop star J J Lin, while Charli XCX released a remix of her single “Boys” with the Chinese producer Howie Lee, which featured her singing in Mandarin.
Some Chinese social media users wondered if Western pop stars would still want to tour in the country given what had happened in Ms. Lipa’s concert.
“I would love to come back for my fans when the time is right and hopefully see a room full of rainbows,” Ms. Lipa wrote in her Twitter statement.
“My heart aches for Dua,” Mr. Zhang, the concertgoer, wrote on social media. “I feel even worse for audience members who were violated.”