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Gareth is an Australian who has lived in JiangSu, SuZhou (Heaven on Earth) for a few years - he is a keen observer of the Chinese people, Chinese culture and the changes that are occurring in China at break-neck speed. He can often be found on his a nightly 'perch' in front of his bar in the famous Bar Street in Suzhou, talking to the locals in his bad Mandarin, teaching the 'flower-selling girls' English, eating street food and smiling at the local chengguan (neighbourhood police). Gareth also has several other businesses in China around Business and English training. His experiences have been varied and interesting and his years in China have taught him to be wary of promises but excited about prospects, not a bad situation to be in!
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PSYcho    

By Garreth Humphris
2125 Views | 3 Comments | 1/29/2013 3:47:18 PM

This week is the start of the most painful time in China, the karaoke/entertainment spectacular staged at the ’Spring Festival Dinners’.

Understandably everyone is pretty excited about finishing work to travel home for a few days to see old friends and family and gamble away a small fortune on majiang or cards! Fill their lungs with tepid cigarette smoke and eat as much food as possible! But before this begins, the horror that is the talent show is released! Not that it is all bad! There is usually a free feed (that everyone has been preparing for by forgoing all sustenance for the day preceding) that comes about one evening in a year - all at the expense of the boss! And, even has the possibility of a gift and bonus payout! It’s just like Christmas!

And it is exactly like that, the boozy ’end of year’ office parties of old! But, as I mentioned, it has even a more sinister twist than photocopying your genitals or being snapped kissing the girl from the typing-pool just a little too vigorously...it has singing!

It is amazing that the production department you have been unsuccessfully spending all year trying to train, coax and bribe into working in unison can somehow co-ordinate hand, legs and exaggerated facial movements to that inane horse-riding, wrist-flapping tune about try-hards on a Seoul street with only 1 hour of rehearsals the day before they did it! Amazing! Will it equate to higher performance or teamwork in the new year - very doubtful. The only thing the factory I work in seems to be able to co-ordinate with utmost accuracy and precision on a daily basis is the delivery of lunch! But that is another story!

But the futility of the new dance situation is not the most staggering part - it is that every department in the company has their own rendition of the same inane dance! How many gangnan’s are there in a gangnan style?

The night has a compere or 2, usually the two people who see themselves most likely to succeed the boss. Just like the Oscars, they fritter about onstage before the drunken ’performers' hit the floor to recite their ill-prepared speeches or musical renditions!

There is usually demure Plain Jane from Reception who has a hidden talent - a wailing singing voice similar to a cat on heat which she feels she must exercise 3 times over the course of the evening and Stylish Li from Sales will belt out a few ’Andy Lau classics’ with suitable gesticulations, gyrations and ’oh yeah’ fist pumps!

There is the inevitable ’get the scowling boss to do something stupid’ trick and the lucky draw where everyone gets a hair dryer or electric kettle and the really lucky one gets a month’s wage in cash or an iPad mini...and dagger-stares from everyone's else in the room how were all equally convinced the number one prize was theirs!

Other rituals include signing your name of the sign as you enter, a 10 minute photo-exposé of company people making funny faces to a searingly loud song of wistful longing, taking lots of photos with your arms around each other’s heads while making V for Victory finger signs and duck-face pouts (for next year's photo-expose) and carrying the comatose factory manager out the door to throw in a taxi after one too many tipples of baijiu.

Other events are the boss walking around handing out Panda or Chenghua cigarettes (the expensive ones!) to all the workers he will most likely ignore tomorrow morning as he drives his car through them on his way to the boss car park.
Also important is the team baijiu skoll, where everyone in a work-team throws back the greasy spirit (looks, smells and tastes like aircraft fuel) in a fluid motion and then simultaneously gags, pulls faces, puffs out breath and groans in a mass appreciation of the liquid’s delicate taste and palate-cleansing nature!

The evening is finished with somebody pouring the uneaten chicken soup into a plastic bag and hiding it in their purse, picking up the wrong umbrella from reception and some bright guy walking around to the teetotaller tables and stashing the cheap white spirit and unclaimed packets of cigarettes into his pockets to keep him warm for the next few hours! Then off to KTV!

This event only happens once a year, but like many things in the Chinese social calendar, must be attended to be enjoyed! Ganbeiiiiiiii!

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(Showing 1 to 3 of 3) 1
#2013-01-29 21:57:03 by panda2009 @panda2009

Our unit 8 men and 2 ladies are rehearsing gangnan style. I attend another program. We are so busy these days, as work as reheare programs. Professional art teacher teach us. All programs are fascinating fantastic, will perform at night on 31th this month.

#2013-02-08 14:15:58 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

I remember when we finished our Peace Corps training. For the closing ceremony, they made the volunteers put on singing performances. Little did I know that this would prepare me for life in China. Your vivid and hilarious description almost makes me sorry i'm back in the States for the holiday. Can you supply video?

#2013-07-06 21:59:35 by Andypanda @Andypanda

Hahahahahaha thanks for the great insight and YES I did laugh out loud while reading it.
Sounds like great fun and although you describe it a bit tongue in cheek, reading between the lines I think you love it.
I hope I get to go to a few of these in the future.
Ganbeiiiiiii

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