26. Conferencing, Chinese-style!

Hi all!

For those of you who may have been expecting a bit on my trip to Beijing last week, as suggested in the last post, you may be disappointed. However, I have received a very interesting piece of news this week that will hopefully entertain you just as much and thoroughly embarrass me at the same time- the DVD from our company’s Annual Party in Harbin has arrived.

Before visiting the Ice festival in Harbin, our school treated us to a night in a plush hotel in Harbin for the annual conference and party. Whilst the conference was as interesting as counting matchsticks, the party afterwards threw up some interesting insights into how the Chinese like to (semi-formally) party.


(Me and a teaching assistant.)

I even had time to pretend to be a boxer…


The night was pre-planned for months, with many people billing it as one of the highlights of the year. A time where everyone can dress up, let their hair down and relax for a night, among other cliches. True to form, everyone was dressed to impress, including the catwalk-style entry at the beginning of the evening. In truth, this was a night of serious entertainment, in all senses of the phrase. The whole event was done properly and thoroughly, which was marvellous. True to Chinese hosting, the food was lavish, the wine flowed and everyone was having a great time.


But there’s a twist. Why, you say? Well, it turns out that aside from congratulatory speeches and prize givings to the best and brightest lights in the school, we were all to perform some sort of showpiece for the entertainment of the rest. Here’s an example of the variety of the performances, as some chose more traditional pieces.


This year, it was decided that the foreign teachers would perform an acapella mash-up selection, themed vaguely around ‘doo wop’, culminating in the Lion King. There is a video, but just from the description I imagine you can have a pretty solid guess as to how it went, so alas I’m not going to post it here! Fair to say, the less said…

Fear not, however, there is a video of something altogether more embarrassing. One afternoon in mid-December, one of the Chinese staff came into the office looking for volunteers to help them with their performance. It transpired that it would be some sort of latin dance, perhaps a Cha Cha Cha, put to modern music. OK, we thought, and did what all good friends would do and signed up the rest of the males who weren’t in the room at the time… Not counting on the fact that they had already done the same to us that very morning. Of course, knowing that I have the coordination and composure of an ice-skating giraffe who has just had his tail set on fire, I swiftly declined, which seemed to upset the girls quite a lot, for reasons which become apparent later. Nevertheless, my mind was made up. I was not going to make a fool out of myself by dancing. End of.

Anyway, skip forward to the first lesson and the gravity of the situation hit home. The instructor strolled in; for we were to have lessons for what we assumed would be a 2 minute lumber around the dance floor. This was swiftly followed by the news that we were to think carefully about the costume that we were going to wear, which felt like being hit with a cricket bat. We recovered quickly to turn it into excuse to get another suit. Excellent thinking, Batman.

However a minor case of lost in translation hit the group, as when the shirts arrived, they looked like this….


Zoom on a few weeks and after a few sessions with the teacher and a dress rehearsal (??), we stepped on the stage ready to take on the audience. A few excuses side notes to get out of the way first. I apologise about the quality of the video, although production costs were really quite high, this hasn’t necessarily translated over via my laptop onto YouTube 😦 .

Also, it is worth bearing in mind that I was terrified of doing this and although this is obvious when you watch the video, please bear in mind that I was actually smiling throughout and it is definitely your eyesight failing you if you think I, or any of us for that matter, are stony-faced.

Finally, if some of the steps are slightly out in places, this may be the copious amounts of Dutch-courage medicine taken just before we went on affecting our judgement quite badly. Although it is mainly our fault, the Chinese also had a few tricks. As part of the celebrations, it is customary for everyone to make a speech on the table and then for it to be toasted. This can often go several times around the table, effectively until it’s decided that there is nothing else to say. Whatever the weather, several glasses of adult grape juice are drank, so it did slightly have an effect.

In front of a packed house we prepared to show them the fruits of our labours and this is the result. Enjoy.

Well, that’s how I’ve been getting down in China recently, congrats to all those who spotted my wardrobe malfunction halfway through… very pro of me.


Have a great week! Next week I’m writing about a wall! Should be intense.


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