Our Chinese Pop-Star Debut:
We had been asked by both the English department and the Graduate School to perform something for a welcoming party they were having for the new freshman, so we decided to pick an easy song and sing along to it, since everyone in China loves karaoke. Pretty much all of the songs you hear here are either sappy 80s lovey-dovey pop hits or the Chinese equivalent to that, so we decided to do something a little more upbeat. Since most of us knew a lot of Beatles songs, we decided to choose something of theirs to sing. I think most of us were leaning toward "I Want to Hold Your Hand" or "Hello, Goodbye," but I suggested listening to "From Me, To You" and everyone seemed to like that more, so that's what we ended up preparing.
The first party was on Sunday night and it was the one for the English department. It was in the student activity center closest to our apartments, on the fifth floor, in a room that nostalgically reminded me of the hall at 'vishkil', except it was filled with chairs and tons of Chinese people
. There was a square light board in the ceiling with running lights and stuff, so it looked very cool. Everyone had those glow wand things too. It was actually pretty entertaining: there were a lot of dances, some from different regions of China which was nice, a lot of singers, some singing Chinese songs, and some singing in English, and a couple of comedy/short scenes that were sadly all in Chinese. I think I really would have enjoyed them if I could understand what was happening, but as it was, they started feeling a little long and I started spacing out.
Every time someone from the audience especially liked what a performer was doing, they would run up onstage with a flower or a balloon and give it to the performer as they were still performing. It was really funny, especially when people came up onstage while we were singing along with the Beatles to give us balloons. One of the Chinese teachers in the English department, Richard, was singing a song, and everyone kept running up onstage to give him flowers, balloons and glow-sticks. There was one girl who came onstage with a giant bouquet of roses and gave it to him. It was hilarious. He got so many things that he couldn't hold all of them and had to put them down while he was still singing. Apparently he is the eye-candy of the department.
While I was watching, I was suddenly reminded of a ballet recital I had when I was little at Hemmens Auditorium
. I remember going into the wings of the stage, and wondering where my mother was. I think she might have been there and then left to go sit in the audience, presumably to watch me perform. I think I remember her saying that she would be right back and I'm sure she was thinking that she'd come back as soon as our dance was finished, but I don't think I understood what was going on, and suddenly everyone was going onstage to perform and I was so confused. I wasn't nervous or afraid to go out there, I just remember being really confused and wondering why everyone was going out on the stage when my mother hadn't come back yet. I ended up watching my classmates do the dance from the wings. I remember people trying to push me out on the stage, and I wouldn't go. It wasn't that I had stage fright; I remember wanting to go out there, but I didn't want to go out because the dance had already started and I thought that would look stupid. It wouldn't have been perfect. I remember being disappointed and confused because everything happened so fast and I didn't know what was going on. I liked being informed even then, I think.
Afterwards, I got flowers and my mom and some of our friends went outside and took pictures next to the auditorium since there is a grassy park area near the water right there from what I remember. I remember thinking that it was kind of silly that I got flowers and congratulations and that we were taking pictures when I didn't even perform
. I wanted to go back and do it again, and actually go onstage this time. I think everyone thought I had just been too scared to go onstage, which wasn't true at all, but it was easier to agree with that than to try to explain what had actually happened. Actually, I think I tried to explain but no one was understanding what I was saying so I gave up.
Sometimes it's just easier to agree with people than to explain what you're really thinking. I don't know why I thought of that.
On Monday night we performed at another student center for what looked like all 800 of the graduate students. The show was similar to the other one, but a little less exciting. I remembered to bring my camera this time, so all of the pictures and videos in the photo album are from this night. It was kind of nice to see a couple of my students performing; most were in dances, but one of them, Ogen, was the male MC. I think we did fine at this performance too, and of course everyone clapped and cheered for us since we're foreigners, but from what I remember, we kind of sounded like the Brady Bunch. The whole experience was a little surreal.
There was this commercial that was playing all the time in the States over the summer that I absolutely loved
. It was just some guy dancing around his apartment while he got ready to go out. He danced through his living room, into his bedroom, jumped onto his bed, still dancing, jumped into his shoes (he was wearing red socks), danced to his front door, then danced out of the apartment. I think the commercial was for a soft drink... Coke? Dr. Pepper? Pepsi? I can't remember. It was mesmerizing.
There's just something about watching people dance when they think that no one is watching. And something about watching people dance when they're so involved in their dancing that they forget someone is watching. And something about watching people dance when they know someone is watching. It's spellbinding.