Some months ago, I briefly talked about the experience of my friend who had visited Shanghai and the rest of China. About his experience of “real acrobatics”. And “work etiquette”. Well, I decided to experience it for myself. And it’s not like I was planning for it, because I suddenly got a call to Beijing for an urgent work trip. Only I managed to spend two nights there, so I cannot say that I experienced or know that much. But, I can say that I experienced a great deal compared to the little time I spent there.
I don’t like to talk about work that much, and love to play quite hard at times. But I must say that the working environment for the expats in Beijing was quite striking. Many might know, but the air quality is not that good in the city. So naturally, a lot of foreigners will do their best to avoid that. Yet the lifestyle that it has created around it is not that in terms of enjoying your time there, or connecting with an ordinary life where absorbing pollution is just an everyday issue.
So what they do to circumvent that? Well, basically you have air purifiers at home and at work. So having your car in a basement conveniently let’s you skip all the “in between air”, and only breath in purified quality air. The third stop might be the local shopping mall, but that’s about it. Being in such a close circle of places to go to and things to do, you don’t really get to see that much of real China.
This is the reason why I decided to experience just that, and took with me a good old friend who also “understands”. We could have chosen an expat bar street, which is often as far as they go to walk on the streets so to say. But we didn’t, we wanted to do something that Chinese do themselves, and oh boy did we find something excellent. We went to witness the amazing Chaoyang Theatre acrobatics Beijing venue that has been around for a large number of years already. Despite a lot of tourists wanting to see shows and acrobatics, mostly Chinese flock this huge theatre in Chaoyang District!
It was getting night and very, very dark. But we managed to find the place in no time because of the flashy colours and vibrant atmosphere, or energy you could call it that was vibrating around the theatre itself. You could really feel it in the air, how everyone knew that the show was about to start soon. We got our discount tickets from a Beijing tour guide service known as May Tours. The way things work, is that you hook up with a tour company and they send someone to send the tickets for you. They wait in front of the theatre, and make a small profit from the sales. It’s hard to complain as the tickets are so rediculously cheap. Anyway, there we were. Suddenly in the middle of a huge theatre building with lights flashing about, and the ancious crowd getting ready for the acrobatic performance.
I did not know what to expet, but soon it started with beautiful music that touched my heart. The onset was very gradual, and together with the music and beautiful dancing the atmopshere adjusted to the minds of the spectators. Then, acrobats came on and presented us with the most amazing feats that seemed to just get better and better. We didn’t see any elephants, or lions of that matter. What we saw, was human bodies taken to the extremes. This was not just some “fun show”, but you could see that a lot of sweat and blood had been put into the production. Most likely you have to train from your childhood to get this good, so you really have to respect these performers and that hard work they put into it.
I have heard, that because Chaoyang Theatre is one of the best in China, it is also one of the most disciplined when it comes to training. That isn’t always a good thing, I know. But then again, without our support they would be out of business and without work. It’s just one of those things that you have to accept as being “Chinese”. I am currently looking for a documentary to see the true nature of these acrobats. So if you know of one, please let me know! A BBC production would be fantastic.
After the show had finished, we were so exhausted. Almost up to crying, I decided. Hey, let’s go to that expat bar street and grab some beers! Which was not a bad idea after all!=)