Hooray! July is OVER! I’m now 2/3 done with my contract, and I’m feeling like the remaining months are going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited to have some free time in August to have some summer fun before it’s too late! Besides swimming indoors a couple of times, the only summery thing we have done so far is go to Big Love Music Festival for a day during Dragon Boat Festival (when we returned from Chongqing). I was really excited to get the chance to get outside, frolic around, drink beer, and listen to some Chinese music. I wanted to get the music festival experience China-style, and that I did.
The day started with us meeting up with our friends Michael and Shane and getting an “illegal cab” to the park where the festival was located. The place was pretty close but not accessible by public transportation. Upon arriving Michael and Shane immediately started working out how to get in for a discount. The ticket price was extremely hefty at almost 300RMB ($50) a person for the day. There were people hawking tickets at ridiculously low prices, but I felt uneasy about buying a ticket from an unofficial source. Turns out this might have been foolish of me as I read later most people had gotten in this way for a fraction of the price. In fact, there was a whole scandal after the fact about the people running the show not breaking even and being unable to pay for artists hotels, food, etc. Apparently almost no one bought a ticket at the door. But I did.
Shane was able to get in for free by having a friend sneak her a volunteer t-shirt. Michael was unable to sneak by because he was deemed too tall. He hadn’t brought enough money, and had to borrow money from us to get in. No big deal. We finally paid the full price and were ready to crack some beers, get some snacks, and enjoy our day. Our first issue came when we realized that no one was selling beer, or any alcohol for that matter. This just seemed crazy. On a hot day, at a music festival, why would you not be able to buy beer? We searched around for awhile as the website had promised a beer garden, but no such luck. Turns out they weren’t selling beer until 6pm. First taste of Chinese music festival culture; this definitely would not have gone down well in America!
We finally realized that there was an area inside the park that was separate from the actual festival that had it’s own permanent vendors selling cheap, cold beer for a fraction of what the festival vendors would be selling beer for. So we made the hike to the other side of the grounds to get food and drink. The venue was huge, and although there were a lot of people it still felt a bit empty because of all the extra room. During all this searching around we realized that we didn’t have enough cash between all of us to get full and drink beer. Soon after this we came to find out that there were no ATMs on the premises and we couldn’t leave and re-enter to get money. Ugh.
A few hours later we had managed to convince a security guard to let us leave and come back, find the ATM (this took forever), withdrawal money, and purchase snacks and drinks. Finally fun time, right? Right. We saw a couple of different musical acts. One was a teeny-bopper “dreamboat” from Taiwan that had all the girls (including Shane) screaming and jumping around. While not our favorite type of music, it was upbeat and catchy and we all had fun. People were passing out free masks and we were taking silly pictures and dancing around. He was cute. He was singing a song about how breakfast was very important or something that seemed so silly to Kevin and I, but Shane thought was “a good message.” Afterwards, we went to the world music stage where we saw a band that reminded me of some of the whiny melodramatic music I listened to in high school, but once again we danced around and enjoyed just being outside and having fun. Then, it started to get dark so we headed to the electronic stage. That was really fun. The DJ was pretty good, as was the light show.
The whole thing was really well put together as far as stages, sound quality, lights, etc. However, the details weren’t quite there. You had to purchase all food and drink with “credits” which you could only buy with cash, which was an unnecessary inconvenience. There were no ATMs. For a long time there was no beer. The details weren’t all sorted out, but the vibe was good and the festival feeling was there.
Yeah, so then we were finally really starting to enjoy ourselves, and someone stole my camera. When I think about it it still casts a huge shadow over the whole experience. I wanted to share some of the really fun pictures we took, but unfortunately that’s not possible. After that I was pretty annoyed and didn’t have a whole lot of fun. We saw a few more bands that were okay, but I was bummed. I should have been more careful. I’ve never been stolen from before, and I wish it hadn’t been my camera. I was more upset to lose the pictures than the camera.
Luckily it was just our point and shoot and not our big one. But it was new. Grr. Makes me upset.
So, anyway, the day was a lot of fuss, but it was a lot of fun for awhile in there. I’m glad I got to go because I was so bummed to miss the summer festivals at home. Big Love was an okay substitute.
Anyway, hopefully more summery fun things will happen in August and I’ll have some better memories to share! Love!