Yesterday was a day of Chinese studies at Chinese Corner, art class at QSI finishing up the mosaic project we've been working on with the 11-12-13 year olds and also...penises and breasts. I'm not trying to capture your attention in the most spectacular way because I can't post any pictures for the moment - believe me when it's possible again I'll post the evidence to prove to you that yesterday was just another typical day in China, i.e. a series of both mundane and bizarre experiences.
I had to go up to Jinli Street yesterday to buy a birthday present and was wandering around the back alleys when I heard the magnetic pulse of salsa music. I could hardly contain myself and had to immediately figure out where this music was coming from. Salsa is not the usual Jinli fare which usually specializes in classical and vernacular Chinese culture and rarely anything Western. But lo and behold salsa it was and I finally found where: The back of Jinli is now connected with the Wuhou Gongyuan and they were participating in the ongoing "Intangible Culture Festival". A group of scantily clad Australian dancers were doing a ripping salsa with all body parts jiggling and wiggling to the beat. How certain parts of the ladies anatomies stayed inside their dresses I think it was not only me wondering but all the mesmerized old Chinese men and women who made up the greater part of the audience at this time of day. The rhythm and enthusiasm of the dance troup was great though and I couldn't help jiggling along with them.
After the Australians bounced off the stage there followed a group of Chinese men balancing a large bamboo pole on their foreheads, juggling with it etc. On the sidelines I noticed other Chinese acts, most unusual being a group of very serious looking men dressed entirely in straw: straw hats, straw skirts, straw leggings and strangely each one had a substantial-looking straw "attachment" dangling between their legs. I didn't pay it much notice until they started dancing. Whoops! That dangling straw thing sure caught the audience's attention now as it turned out to be the focal point of the dance, help up high in the sky with a eye-riveting red-painted tip, jerked about and held with firm determination by the wildly dancing men.
The old ladies in the audience were giggling now and I asked the young man beside me where these dancers came from: "Hunan" he answered, as he distanced himself from me and my questions. When I later showed Burton the pictures he said "Must of been some kind of fertility dance". What a way to be distracted on this certain day.