A Good Way to End a Bad Day

So I’m a little bit deaf right now. Everything’s sort of muffled and even when I talk to myself it’s as if there’s cotton filling up my skull. It was an overall crappy day, punctuated by some good times. I had rehearsal with the IFC Youth Choir, which was lots of fun; I’ve always enjoyed working with developing voices and these kids, though small in number, make a wonderful sound together. I hope to do more work with them in the future. And thankfully, I also got paid; it’s nice to get paid to do music work and this would be the first time that I was paid for such work in China. But the crappiness in general stems from the fact that for the past 48 or so ours I’ve been on my own, kind of just cooped up in this altogether much too large apartment that I’m in. It’s surprising just how used to having Maria around I’ve gotten. The weather’s also been weird; much too hot for my tastes so I’ve switched my schedule around so that I do most of my active and productive things during the night and sleep during the day; but this means my sleep is fitful, disturbed by the heat. I mean, it was so bad that as I was talking to Maria on the phone, I missed her so much and it was all I could to do stop from crying. I ran off to the restaurant at some point and, disgusted by the whole affair, drank my sorrows away with alcoholic girly drinks.

But the good way; I got to go to a club in China! For the first time! And though I groaned and griped the entire time saying I didn’t want to go, it turned out to be lots of fun! I went with XiaoXing, one of my only friends in China at the moment (damnit Maria, when are you coming back…). But uh, yeah, details about the club, because well, it’s not even close to anything like clubs in the States.

So they’re called something I can’t remember but I think is related to some phonetic rendition of the English acronym “DJ.” Apparently there are a lot of them and they’re really popular with the young people. I mean, it’s almost 4AM now and we left early, and when we first got there it was jammed packed. For some reason, it was called “GT Banana Club.” Yeah. And the Chinese name…”GT Banana Club” pronounced phonetically. Yeah. It’s tucked away next to some business center somewhere and the neon sign is half blown out so you really have to look carefully to make out the “banana” part of the name. When you get in, there’s these really crappy looking marble stairs that lead up to the first layer of the concierge. Here they take the cover, which wasn’t that much, somewhere around 50RMB as it varies depending on gender and day of the week. Up yet another flight of crappy looking marble stairs (I’m talking faux chic and glamorous here, kind of like porn shoot marble) and you get to the next layer of the concierge where they check your ticket and scan you with a hand held metal detector. The first thing you’ll notice when you get in, the fruit platters. Every single table has a huge, ornate, excessively decorated fruit platter. Don’t ask me why; apparently it’s communal but I’ll be damned if I touch it. But I later found out that apparently it costs money but they just leave them around and it’s just kind of, gross…I can honestly say, despite my lack in clubbing knowledge, that this was quite unlike anything in the US I’ve ever been to. The space was really big, with multiple floors, with multiple seating options ranging from huge and luxurious booths to tall round tables with stools to almost private room type booths. And again, don’t forget the fruit platter on every table top. There’s a bar, decently well stocked, though the whiskey is the highlight. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet but whiskey is the only liquor that’s managed to penetrate the Chinese market in any way. Go to any bar or restaurant and you’ll see at least a dozen different kinds of top shelf whiskey, but try to find any top shelf vodka or tequila and you’re fresh out of luck. Someone needs to market Patron here; they’ll make a killing. But uh…so we ordered two Long Island Iced Teas, not that expensive really, but that was the cheapest stuff on the menu. They had this massive VIP “Set” that you can order that costs over 15,000 RMB (2000 USD). Not sure what it includes, but at least a fruit platter and a couple of bottles of whiskey with mixer and a sort of private staff who takes care of your needs, and which apparently also includes some dancing girls. It was weird; next to where we were standing there were these two mid-30s looking men, one of whom was really fat and passed out, around this table arrayed with a massive fruit platter and multiple bottles of whiskey, while two staff girls danced for them and a male staff member poured more drinks. And the guy was passed out. Apparently that’s what happens; you can pay for people to keep you company, and I wondered how many of the girls in there were like that, because something seemed fishy given how ugly most of the men looked.

But that brings up the dance floor, which was huge, and which bounced! The entire floor bounced! Even if you didn’t want to dance yourself, just by virtue of standing on the floor you moved in rhythm to the music! Pretty neat! And there were lots and lots and lots of bubbles from a bubble machine :) And lots of fog, and a separate, smaller stage that lifted like 5 feet onto which at one point were three staff dancing girls, dressed all in white 1920s style flapper type dresses, dancing to a really crappy Chinese dance song. Speaking of which, the music was mostly European and American, except for the odd few of the Chinese ones that emulated those styles. I have a feeling these people have absolutely no idea what the words in the songs are because they’re all shouting along happily to “Fuck, fuck, fuck” and “Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn.” It’s like my staff singing along happily to “Like a Virgin” with absolutely no idea what the words mean! I’ve also never seen so many groups of the same sex all dancing together. Now, obviously, some of gay; there’s a lot of those in China apparently, or maybe I just can’t tell because men in China have a much closer and physical form of camaraderie than in the States. Either way, but where I’d expect men and women to be dancing together in the States, there were just large groups of men and large group of women, all dancing in that pseudo-inappropriate club sort of way with lots of grinding. And then there were the tall caps. What the hell is with the very tall baseball caps?!?!?!? I’d like to just chalk it up to Chinese people being weird, especially when it’s like, they have a limited exposure to Western popular culture, so whatever they do see or find they then emulate and apply a multiplier on in their own special “Chinese” way that just puts it all the more over the top. I mean, imaging a Chinese man, probably mid-20s, with an afro, and a massive, tall baseball cap sitting on top of the afro, that says “Let’s be Colorful” with “Colorful” written in rainbow colors…

In short though, it was a lot of fun, especially the music. It helps when I’m feeling down to just be so completely taken over by something; the massive vibrations of the bass literally shook me to where I couldn’t stand straight; when music is that physical it helps me to kind of forget everything else and just be literally moved by it. Maria, my dear, I miss you so much. I wish you were there; you’d enjoy it a lot. I’ve already got it in the plans for us to go there together :)

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maria | May 7th, 2010 

It sounds like a fantastic(ally interesting) time! Would you say it qualifies as “even more interesting?” The moth read it too and thought your writing was excellent.

I’ll be looking forward to going with you next time. I miss you, honey!

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