Midnight on Christmas Eve 2009 in Tianjin, China (they call it “Peaceful Night” 平安夜):
If you put New Year’s, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day and the commercial side of Christmas into a blender and then reincarnated the unappetizing mush into an overpopulated midnight carnival, you’d have Christmas Eve in Tianjin. Clowns, stage shows, blowing artificial snow (soap-sud machines), a countdown to midnight (pictured above), and a bunch of foreigners performing Christmas carols (us) were all out two nights ago among the masses and their blinky, battery-powered headgear. In between our two performances on stage there was a choreographed Michael Jackson dance routine by five 5-foot tall pelvis-thrusting minors who looked way too young to be grabbing the front of their pants that way in public (pictured left).
Random strangers occasionally asked to get their picture taken with us, since we’re foreigners. We obliged, of course, and I got my revenge when I saw this line up of 90-pound Santas:
But it was all for a good cause. A local company decided they wanted to get into the real spirit of Christmas by holding a fundraiser for the Special Education Project. They aggressively hawked these LED Christmas candle things all day and night to the throngs of people on Tianjin’s two busiest outdoor shopping streets, which is Christmas Eve Central for T. The two girls pictured on the right had me and a friend cornered before we had a chance to tell them we were with the group they were raising money for.
Since we’re associates of the N.G.O. that was receiving the money, the company asked us to put together some songs for before and after the midnight countdown. We had a group of carolers, which included some of our local friends and students, two guitars and a flute. They wanted us to get the crowd into it, and below you can see the line of police in front of the stage holding back all our rabid 粉丝. Ok, maybe they’re not actually our fěnsī, but they were in a good mood and it wasn’t hard to get a response from the crowd; all we had to do was show up. They’re supposed to play part of it on TV today, so I may have finally made it on TV in Tianjin. :) Here’s our the helmeted crowd control:
It didn’t actually feel all that Christmasy, but at least it was something to mark the day. Actually, packing into an apartment with a bunch of friends (Chinese, German, Brazilian, Canadian, American) earlier in the evening to practice the songs over snacks and coffee wasn’t a bad way to spend a Christmas Eve. For two of my students it was the first time they’d done anything to celebrate Christmas, so that was kind of special. A few more photos below (none of these photos are mine; I was too busy playing guitar).
All these blobs are the blowing artificial snow soapsud bubbles (it looked cooler in real life):
These are the LED things they sold for the fundraiser:
If I can find any photos of us on stage, I’ll add them below when I get them.
Friends who also wrote on this surreal experience:
- Lindy — Christmas is for Shopping…
- Rob (the other guitar player) — Merry Something!
- Shannon — Merry MardiEasterValentineHalloweenNewYearChristmas! Ho Ho Ho?
[2010 Jan 08] Here we are in the newspaper:
The caption says:
The other day Tianjin TV’s “Art & Entertainment Food 8 Street” news column at Heping Lu business walking street held a groundbreaking special evening party, not only was there brilliant cultural performances, also can’t count the many different kinds of interactive games spectators were invited to participate in. Additionally, foreign volunteers working in Tianjin from the USA, France, Italy and etc. countries also got on stage and sang impromptu songs for the audience. Newspaper reporter: Cao Tongshe
Of course, we didn’t have anyone from France or Italy, but hey, who’s counting?
[2010 Jan 18] Finally got hold of some shots of us on stage:
Other Christmas and Christmas-in-Tianjin posts:
- Christmas Eve… with Chinese characteristics
- An UnChristmas party in Tianjin
- “And the 2008 Tianjin Grinch Award goes to…”
- Christmas doesn’t have to be Made In China
- 圣诞快乐! (Merry Christmas!)
- Some Tang dynasty poetry for the Christmas we’re missing
- Take this, capitalist!
- 聖誕快樂! – Shèng dàn Kuài lè! (first Christmas in Asia)