Long before Star Wars ever entered the Chinese consciousness, May the 4th was celebrated in China in a similar spirit, but for very different reasons. The passionate, patriotic and pro-reformist movement of May the 4th, 1919, has been remembered in history as a representative of the spirit of youth. On this May the 4th 2018, I’m starting a mini series of articles to look at a musical form that is inseparable with Youth, rock n’roll. As a musical genre that is entirely Western, and hardly heard of the 1980s, Rock Music took root in China, an extremely conformist society where alternative lifestyles were virtually unheard of, against incredible odds, in bizarre and unexpected ways, and became Yao Gun. It is the story that arose from the world’s plastic dumping ground, a tale of hungry minds, bleeding wallets, tireless transcriptions, countless disseminations, long sweaty bicycle rides, makeshift drum-kits, close encounters with the authorities, and much more.
Are you ready to Yao Gun?
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, history, indie, music, rock
The Ming writer Tang Xianzu (1550-1616) is regarded as one of China’s greatest playwrights. Born in Jiangxi into a scholar’s family, Tang exhibited literary talent from the very tender age of five. He lived in a time of government corruption, instability at the Court, when borders north and south crumbled under threat of attack from neighbouring tribes. Despite his prodigious learning, Tang encountered multiple setbacks in the Jinshi exams, and declined requests by numerous official that amounted to aiding in cheating. In 1591, he presented a memorandum to the emperor criticizing the idol conduct of servants of the Court, thus offending its key members. Banished to minor posts in poor, remote southernmost regions, he nevertheless worked with dedication and compassion, allowing prison inmates to visit their families during Spring Festival, and attend Lantern Festival celebrations.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, drama, Kunqu, literature, music, opera, play, review, Tang Xianzu, theatre
My English partner once told me, that China should re-Christen themselves the East Pole, claim Father Christmas as one of their own, and tell the children of the world, that he’s just moved closer to where the toys are made.
As we hear sleigh bells on the horizon, I know a lot of you will be facing Christmas with a mixture of excitement and dread, with many of you still hunting for exactly the right gift to spoil your loved ones and friends. Interest in Chinese culture have grown in recent years, and I hope this gift guide may help inspire anyone shopping for a sinophile!
Posted in Blog and tagged Ben Chu, Big Trouble in Little China, book, Chinese, Chinese Fairly Tales, Chinese Whispers, christmas, classicist, culture, Donnie Yen, fantasy, film, Folio Society, Geek, Genjing Records, gift, ginger, indie record label, Ip Man, JING, John Carpenter, music, POP!, punk, review, Sci-Fi, sinophile, tea, Terracotta Distribution, urban adventurer, Victo Ngai, vinyl
This week is Spring Festival 2015. In London’s Chinatown, festive lanterns shine over frantic shoppers rushing about to prepare for the biggest annual feast and celebration, there will be lion dances in Gerrard Street and music performances in Trafalgar Square. Is the thought of pushing through the crowds again making your head spin? Are you an adventurous Sinophile wandering what else there is beyond the bounds of Soho? Here are some things you can enjoy in London outside Chinatown.
Posted in Blog and tagged Aardman, animation, Chang Er, china, Chinatown Artspace, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Chinese opera, Cinderella, film, flower market, jade rabbit, moon landing, music, Polka Theatre, puppetry, Rich Mix, Shanghai Animation Studios, Shaun the Sheep, Shikumen, Spring Festival, stop motion, theatre, Year of the Sheep, Yeh Shen, Yellow Earth Theatre
An interview with the band Vagabond Street, by John YingLing, for his upcoming documentary, China Underground.
I’ve translated about 3 hours of interviews for this project, which is now heavily into post production (but could still do with more funding). This will be one of the video programe available to accompany my talk “Peking Into Punk”.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, China Underground, Chinese, documentary, film, Guangzhou, indie music, music, pop culture, punk, rock, Vagabond Street
At 2:22 in the early morning, I was walking on a strange street, holding hands with my girl, and feeling the sweat in her palm.
“Do you think my mum’ll get the police to drag us back? Is it really ok to not go to the entrance exams?” My girl asked me, wracked by nerves.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, essay, exams, Gaokao, Mayday, music, punk, rock n'roll