Worldtour Busts a Move!
For those of you that have never been to China during the Chinese New Year, let me describe the "traditional" event. Families get together much like Thanksgiving in the United States. They have lots of food, TV and games such as cards and Majiang. The national television, CCTV, organizes large shows that are seen live and repeated several times. They do these kind of shows all year, they are a little like a variety show. Mostly they have singers and dancers and may have minority ethnic performances too. The pictures here are from the celebration in Sanya on the eve of the new year. After the big show they had a DJ spinning tunes and invited everyone to dance. Well that didn't quite happen. Chinese people don't really know how to party. This is the biggest celebration of the year and other than a few dancers who were part of the show there was no one that was "brave" enough to dance except for myself and my Chinese partner.
So these pictures show the New Years crowd desperate for more "entertainment", namely watching a foreigner dance. There were literally 500 to 1000 people watching us dance. It was impossible to get any of them to join in and cut loose. They are just too self conscious to do that. When you have a party in China it is really just a dinner where people drink and eat. I'm reminded about a conversation I had with one of my teaching peers who was constantly criticized by his Chinese spouse because he liked to have a beer and play pool. She called him an alchololic. You see it is acceptable to drink yourself blind on Bai Jiao and heave the vile stuff back up as long as you do it at a meal. Vomit is a common sight. I know that is a blanket statement and as with all statements like this it is only partially true for some, but it is true for some as well. The point is that going out for a drink is not really done that much where I live. There are very few bars like in the west. There are a few discos which have bars but most people will do their drinking at a dinner. It's just a cultural difference. In Beijing and Shanghai where the nightlife is much better you will find more clubs, bars and such, but for the most part there is not a lot of nightlife here where I live.
So it is a little difficult for the average Chinese to "cut loose". They can do it but usually it is a group thing. It is very common to see boys dancing with boys and girls with girls. Are they gay? Probably not but mustering up the courage to dance with a stranger may not happen much. Sometimes the discos are like one group trance. Mind you I don't do that much even though I love to dance. When I do I always attract a lot of attention, as I did in the States. No brag, just fact. I'm sure it is much different in the more hip cities but I don't have much experience with that scene. But as you can see from the people watching this was quite entertaining for them, and as my background is in the arts as a performer it was no big thing for me and I had a great time. You really can have lots of fun in China and I do recommend it for those of you who are looking for an adventure. All things considered, the Chinese people are very kind and good people, I am happy to be here and most of the time the only thing that makes it difficult is dealing with my own cultural biases. If you realize these things you have a great chance to make lifelong friends and enjoy a fascinating culture.
Worldtour aka Larry Rhoe