Sunday, December 18, 2011

Are you dancing? Are you asking?

After several attempts to persuade my wife to watch The Evil Dead, I relented and chose a different film from 1981 for us, Time Bandits, which she's never seen.

The only copy of the DVD in Hong Kong was in a shopping centre in Whampoa, many miles away through the labyrinth of corridors and tunnels that make up Tsim Sha Tsui and then a mile's taxi ride further. We found the HMV and purchased it easily enough, then stuck around to watch a dance competition.

The first hour wasn't quite up to the standards of an American paedo-fest (sorry, beauty pagent); yes, there were lots of small girls dancing, but mostly not to sexualised pop music or in obscene outfits. Which was nice. After that, the MC came out and screeched for twenty minutes, a minor Canto-pop star sang a song, and then the "Street Dance" began.

All through this, it was near impossible to see the stage, because five bulky men with cameras were parked right in front of it, standing on ladders to best spoil everyone's view. Not that anybody seemed too bothered, because nobody wanted to watch the dancing, so much as watch images of the dancing on their mobile phones and cameras.

This is a strange thing, when you think about it. I'd rather have the high-definition visuals that my eyes can supply, rather than a blurry recording that is half the back of somebody's head, themselves recording things rather than experiencing them. But never mind. If it wasn't for this obsession with capturing the moment, we wouldn't have been graced with the sight of a man using his wife's head to brace his slightly shaky hand as he pointed his smartphone towards the stage.

The dancers themselves were of various standards. Hong Kong has a tradition of men dressing up in flamboyantly ridiculous clothing to perform audaciously athletic acts: anyone who's seen a giant gay pantomime lion jump ten feet through the air, between six foot high stilts, will tell you this. Thus three teenagers in t-shirts waving their arms and gurning, though it might have some commonality with this, doesn't quite measure up to the lunacy of the lion dance. As the dancers went on, the groups got better, or at least more cohesive, until our favourites, Princess came out.

And came out felt like the right word for two men in (assymmetric1) leather hot pants, red and black fish net tights and jackets with nothing on underneath. The two ladies looked similar, although they weren't wearing huge boots, but the men tossed them around the stage and grinned maniacally. Queens? I thought it would be rude to ask.

We didn't feel anything could top Princess (and we'd just seen some fairly impressive dancing from ladies in lumberjack shirts) so we fled again - it's nice to be surprised by random strangeness in Hong Kong, but there's only so many cameras we could take before it was time to get back to an unintermediated reality.

Well, I was in a rush to go see Mission Impossible, but we'll talk more on that when I've seen it.

1That's like asymmetric, but showing more of your buttocks.


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