New Years Eve In China

We stepped off the plane into the freezing Beijing airport. It is 3 in the afternoon Asia time and for us…probably 4am or so. We walk through an easy breezy customs with stern looking gov’t officials and look for a bathroom. We spot a family sized one and decide to hijack it together. Rolling his suitcase into the bathroom Dan accidently hits the service call button and an obnoxious buzzer alarm goes off. Three short custodians anxiously rush in to check it out. Unable to communicate our error, we walk out laughing, subconsciously scared of getting thrown into a Chinese jail and never returning home.

We divide into the little boys and girls rooms.

Lent brush. Tooth Brush. Hair Brush. Makeup. Change of clothes. BLAM!

We walk freshly down the escalator. And it’s a good thing too because waiting at the bottom were two arrival signs with our names on them, three people with flowers, a camera man and a girl anxiously waving a microphone at me. So weird. They took everything, didn’t let us carry anything, interviewed me on the spot about how I felt and handed us bouquets of flowers. Then took them back again to hold for us. So so weird. So weird. We were obviously caught by surprise and our faces showed it. I couldn’t help feeling like a fake superstar who was being videoed in order to trick the masses with staged paparazzi. I guess that’s how they make people stars in LA anyway. Their agents call the press to bombard them all the time so just like sheep following the flock, we look at what other people are looking at.

Dan and I hop in our own private car (Ballin!) and the rest of the crew follow in another. After a long ride through traffic worse than the worst of Los Angeles, we arrive at our hotel. The Penta, in downtown Beijing (Pimpin!), flooded with people walking about, and rising high against the skyline. A beautiful sunset turned wild by the immense smog in the air. I have never seen such pollution in my life! We meet Julia and Larry in the lobby and sit down to sing over the song. We were to have a performance at 8:00 that night. She brought out the sheet music and we lightly sang the verse and chorus back and forth. Little did I know that this was to be our only rehearsal we would have for this entire tour. We attempt to talk to the assistants. One is shy and the other, ‘Clarie,’ is a little spitfire who keeps laughing because she can’t speak good English.

We rushed to order dinner at the hotel restaurant. Dan and I thought we ordered soup but it ended up being an expensive chicken dish with the skin and bones still on it. I only took two bites before the assistants rushed me to my room, helped me change, harmlessly laughed at the fact that I only brought 4 dress choices, and rushed us off. The stage was in the center of the mall at the bottom of many high stories of floors with overlooking balconies packed with shoppers. I only got to see a dance crew embarrassingly attempt hip-hop before I was scurried off for a TV interview. Julia and I were to look at the giant camera, tell the world about our selves, and smile and wave. I was quickly taught “Sin Yeh Hao!” which means “Happy New Year!” and was told to say both to the camera. Little did I know this was to be my infamous go-to line for my stay in China. I felt pretty, important, and very welcomed… but still a bit fake. Maybe I’m just not cut out for the deceiving art of fame. We sang our song for the first time together in front of hundreds of people. The microphones were handheld and amazing. I could whisper and sound like a Goddess. Even though as soon as I began to sing I heard applause…I felt lonely because I couldn’t talk to anyone or understand anything. I tried to sing to the people and look many of them in the eyes, singing, “We have many, many differences between us, and our truth it can bridge our hearts.” But when I said Happy New Year, the cute tall Asian host with the high pony-tail said something to the audience which made them all laugh. I felt like a dumb blonde ignorantly smiling and waving. After, I was asked to take pictures with random Chinese people. I saw Dan from across the crowd and wanted so badly to sit next to him, to be the observer, and not the observed. I wanted to disappear in the crowd and be able to view China from under an invisibility cloak.

Since the government owns the media in China and because it is a communist country I was prepared to filter myself a bit when I got here. I was prepared to be more traditional, more aware of my speech, polite, and dress accordingly. However, Dan and I realized that the dresscode is way less modest then we heard about and the manners are less strict then we had read about. To filter ourselves in anyway would make us dolls because we cannot speak the language and we must speak through our personalities. We made a pact to be ourselves in every way so that we do not become the zombies we see smiling and singing to tracks. This does not mean that we would be disrespectful in any way or that we would not try our hardest to do our best here in performances and promoting the song “Love at the Same Planet.” Basically we just reminded ourselves to be ourselves. Or else there is no freakin’ point! And I refuse to feel how I felt tonight this whole trip! Beijing, like Hollywood can create superstars out of mass media attention. Humans like sheep have a problem where if one looks, 5 more look, and then 20 million need to see what they are all looking at. If I’m going to be seen, I want to be seen truthfully. Dan and I decided to readjust our intentions and create our own fun…

I mean for goodness sake it is New Year’s Eve! America’s New Year’s Eve!

C Nicely

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