Last night Holly performed in one of those things that universities do here: a big talent show type pageant to celebrate the new year and the new students. Or something. It was in a freezing hall and the hosts wore gowns and metallic tuxedos we think the school must own. You have to have a very specific body type to be the MC for a school event. If you don’t fit the tux, no go.
Holly was asked to sing, and she sang her Chinese song very beautifully. I’m always amazed how these things end up coming together. Holly didn’t get a proper chance to practice until moments before the performance when she had to find someone with a phone that could play the music from the right kind of memory card. It was madness, the kind of instability I don’t deal well with, though dealing with China has made me get better about it. And last night I didn’t have to do anything but sit and watch and cheer, so all my exasperation with the process was vicarious.
We knew that Holly’d been asked to sing, but it’s unclear who thought it would be a good idea for some of the other singers to perform. Why would you sing for hundreds of people if you can’t? There were some terrible singers. I guess they had heart. Maybe they perform because everyone knows they won’t be the best. This is a crappy little school in a crappy little city, so why not let the crappy singers do their thing? It’s as close to being a big deal as anyone here’s going to get anyway, right? I don’t know. Just a theory.
There were a couple of performers who were pretty good. One bigger guy did a great job doing this sort of pop-hiphoppy song and dance thing, and man did he ever work that crowd. Two girls did a comedy routine that seemed really good and was based more on wordplay than the shitty skit I hated (not that I could understand either of the performances, but the two girls were good performers and confident and funny).
There were several dance groups, which usually had one good performer and the rest were filler being dragged along. One of the opening dance groups had two guys who were really good at robot-dancing. The girl dance groups were weird. Not in the sexualized dancing they were doing, because what else would you expect, but the facial expressions they wore while doing their motions. Masks of concentration for the most part. I’m not a fan of forced-smiling but some indication that they were enjoying themselves a tiny bit would have made it much less creepy. We wondered how many of them were fucking profs.
Last thing: all of the singers had people rushing on stage to give them flowers. Single flowers for the most part but big bouquets too. Not as a spontaneous outpouring of gratitude as they finished the song but as a routine, in the middle of the song. So when Holly was singing she had to accept a bouquet in one hand with a microphone in the other and all while not losing her place in the song in a foreign language. Which she did, because she’s awesome, but still. And this happened for every singer. Good ones, bad ones, it didn’t matter. You sang a song and you got flowers, which students took to give to the next singer as soon as the bouquet-laden performer got offstage.
Halfway through the first sentence from the MCs Holly whispered to me, “Don’t you feel like you’re in China?” I really did.ballgown bouquets chinese dance flowers holly master of ceremonies nanchong performance robot dance sex singing singing badly skill technology tuxedo xihua normal university