Creativity and Ramblings from the heart of NYC and around the World

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Celebration

Looking over last nights mini post from the dance club I figured I'd fill in the entire night. Let me start out by saying that this was a VERY fun night!! The sights, smells and sounds -- sometimes were overwhelming -- but always interesting if you look hard enough.

The new restaurant, Yan Shui Chai Xin located in Changping, China, was delicious! There were over 13 dishes with 11 adults and two children. They ranged from pork and pigeon to zucchini and bok choy. Mushrooms and fungus were plentiful as were prawn and beef. Choy sum was perfectly paired with just the right amount of garlic and the squid was elegantly and artistically sliced into beautiful shapes. Serving plates were garnished with stems of flowers and the fruit plate finished with a beautiful, as always, carved rind. I took photos of most dishes but definitely missed a photo of the steamed fish, one vegetable dish and the plate of both steamed and fried bread.

Here are the ones I did get! For more information, on each dish (Chinese name, ingredients etc) go here.

The wine, a 2001 Chateau Dauzac Margaux (see photo left) was wonderful. Part of me was pained to see the gents at the table toast repeated "compay" (bottoms up) and see their 1/4 full glasses drained of this wonderful grape with it barely passing over their tongues...the other part of me didn't mind at all since that's the culture and they were having so much fun!! The two bottles were enjoyed by most ( a few gals didn't care for it) and thus it was split amongst 8 adults...or really 3 of the men doing French shooter with a the rest of us enjoying it slowly. :-)

This is the first time I'd been out with everyone where Mag was not there with her near-perfect English to translate. Min stepped in to help me understand the conversations...

It still amazes me that this strong leader of a team is the same girl that was so shy and nervous even 2.5 years ago. Her English is quite good now, though sometimes I need her to speak a little more loudly to hear her over others that are talking. You GO GIRL!

After we were all so stuffed, we piled into a few cars and drove 15-20 minutes to the Sunday Club. The photo at the left is the one I took as the security guard nudged me to not take photos. The one on the right is the one I took when I fained stupidity as my team stalled him a moment. This is the last photo from the night --- taking out your camera inside would cause nothing but trouble. This is indeed a flashy Vegas style building both inside and out!

There would be no photography inside...where as in the US it is sort of expected that someone in each party will be taking photographs, in China I haven't been to an establishment yet that allows them. Why? I have a few theories, the top two being:

1) The management/owner is afraid you will steal their amazing and uncopyable-by-visiting decor and ideas and open up a competing club.

2) There are too many men there with their mistresses and they don't want to handle the problems later if photos arise.

We even asked the staff...and no one knows why. It's just company policy.

Because there aren't any photos (which I can't stress how much of a bummer that is), I'll describe it all to you as best I can. As you walk up the stairs you're flanked by 20 people. Most of them standing in a line in uniforms to greet you I suppose. (This is a big practice here in China. Hiring multitudes to stand there and greet you -- I suppose it makes the establishment look affluent and it also helps the government with their "we have little to no unemployment" talk.)

I'd been here before, but had never been to the private rooms that over looked the dance floor from above. Ming decided it might be nice to check out these rooms, so after all of our purses were poked through (barely) at their faux security table, we all climbed the grand curved staircase, only to be greeted by 20+ MORE gals in a DIFFERENT uniform all standing there. Dressed in bright turquoise with the gold and red flashiness around them this is a very beautiful photo in my mind.
We were brought down a long hallway to one of the two "Presidential Suites" and we took a look. Couches and stools all covered in leopard print, a red carpeted floor... at first glance you might picture it as an old brothel lavishly decorated like you'd see in the movies.
At second glance you notice the shmeer on the windows from the months of cigarette smoke coating them since they were last washed, which obscured your expensive view of the dance floor below, as well as obscuring our sense of smell from the years of cigarette smoke in this room without the carpet or couches ever having been cleaned.
The room was outfitted with everything needed for KTV (Karaoke) and the gal showing us the room began her sales pitch. She must have thought that Ming was there as the only man with all of these women with him at first...but then Min's husband came in and the look on her face and tone in her voice changed. Even though I couldn't understand her Chinese I could tell from her tone and sales pitch that she would get commission if we booked this room.
Ming left to check out the availability downstairs along the dance floor before we'd make our choice.

We decided --- Along the dance floor it is!!! She looked none to happy and waved us away from her room. Back down the grand staircase. Past the bag check and the first 20 greeters to the entrance. Here we had to each buy a ticket into the club which we handed to the security guard before passing though the metal detector (which I was shocked didn't go off with everything I was schlepping in my huge bag directly from the office -- it would certainly go off at any airport!) Made me wonder if the thing was actually plugged in or a decoy there for show.

Next stop -- floor side to find our tables. We'd need 3 tables with all of the gals that were coming. If there was a candle lit upon the table it was taken/reserved. We quickly picked out 3 tables and had the candles lit as we paid for them up front. Next came the drink girls. Each vendor of alcohol (beer, vodka coolers etc) has a different gal working the place dressed in a t-shirt with their logo and tight jeans. She has a menu of glossy photos of her drinks and she gets commission if you buy HER drinks. If you're a gal she tries to be your best friend. If you're a guy she flirts like hell! (Funny to watch as the two gals tried to decide who was the one in our group who would make the ultimate decision and lay the money down. They both stopped in their tracks when someone apparently told them that I'd be making the choice (I would?) as I was their guest, which frankly I didn't care what we drank...but it was all worth it to see the two gals try to figure out how they could schmooze me when I didn't speak Chinese.
Who won? The Tsing Tao girl hands down! Her pantomime and go-gettiveness far out shown the other gal who seemed to give up as soon as she saw my blue eyes. Too bad, I've yet to try one of these Vodka Koolers here in China. :-)

Text messages with our in club location were sent out at rapid pace and before long the team rolled in. Our table was brought a rectangular plastic bin (16"x10" approx) filled with 2 dozen beers on ice. Glasses were provided to everyone and a few beers were opened and poured by our waiter (not the Tsing Tao girl -- her job was to seal the deal only and she was off shakin' it to a table full of men a few tables away.)

Each table juts out from the wall - giving two long sides and one short curved end to sit around. I'd say they are 16" across and 36" long perhaps, with 6 leopard fur covered stools (that have definitely seen better days.) The stools are packed in and you definitely have NO personal space both next to you or behind you as the table behind you is really leaning right up upon you. Personal space is not something always understood in China.

Besides the trough-o-beer on the wall end of the table, there are 6 sets of Liar's Poker, 6 glasses and a candle. Liar's Dice/ Liar's Poker -- In China you often see this game in bars. You can find it EVERYWHERE. Beer manufacturers often provide unlimited cups (usually with bottoms) and dice as promotion items. Why? According to the common rules of game, the loser has to drink (anywhere from 1/4 to 1 of your glass or bottle of beer). I must admit it's a fun game! After a quickie refresher course on the rules and how to do the hand signals for numbers 1 through 10 the Chinese way, we began. The hand signals are very important because they allow you to play without having to hear each other speak - which would be IMPOSSIBLE!!! Thankfully the beer we got was like water with a low alcohol content because I played for fun instead of to win!

As we started to play, the performances of the night began. Each song either a man or woman dressed in ripped T-shirts (think 1983) and tight jeans with super pegged legs, belting out an apparently commonly known Chinese tune, as those with me all sang along under their breath as we played the game. The food began to arrive. More food? Trays of fruit (oranges, tomatoes, melons and mini apples) and steaming hot boiled peanuts to crack open and slurp out or their shells. You put the shells right onto the table in random piles, and the waiter randomly goes from table to table sweeping the piles into a bucket.

Suddenly and without warning -- I had yet another reminder that I'm not 25 anymore.

BMM BMM BMM BMM --- it began. THE BASS!! So low and so loud that not only did it shake your tables but for a moment I thought I was having a panic attack as it shook me to the core.

Hello, My name is Kimberli and I forgot my earplugs at the hotel. The music was loud!! I can't believe I'd forgotten just how loud the music was at this place. :-)

It was time to dance. The young 19 year old girls came over to collect me and I was whisked onto the dance floor. This was the first time that I'd been dancing with these new young office gals. My old team (as in I've worked with them for almost 8 years) was there too! FUN!!

The dance floor is rectangular with the DJ booth along one of the long sides. There's a little stage/landing in front of the DJ booth where the singers had been and where they sometimes have dancers (usually of an androgynous nature). There are four best described as barrels, out on the dance floor itself, about 3 feet high where I've seen other dancers as described above dancing for the crowd. Tonight I saw no dancers upon them, but instead I saw young boys leaning against them - facing them - holding on arms out - as they swayed and danced with the barrel as though it were a partner. The young women, most with a cigarette in their hands, all danced in groups and seemed to ignore any advances made by the occasional brave man.

The women were in all manor of attire. There was the Disco Queen with her chiffon style dress and metallic belt/shoes and flipped hair. The Sport Gal in her best track suit. The I wear my own style gal with the 12" frizzed Afro and white halter top. The gaggles of girls in matching tops and jeans. It was a fascinating sight to watch.

After a few hours of non-stop dancing, it was time for me to be the first to leave and see if I could make up for the lack of sleep I'd gotten the night before. Leaving the club I found I had that not-at-all-missed ringing in my ears that I haven't heard likely since the last time I came here dancing.

What's next? A shower to get all of that unfiltered cigarette smoke off and a nice long sleep!
Back to long days at the factory tomorrow where I guarantee everyone that was out until 4 or 5am dancing will roll in fresh as a daisy. Why? Because most of them are 19!

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