Every so often you need an experience that restores your faith in humanity. Night before last was one such.
I was with a colleague at the 9th Ice Waterfall festival in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan. After the celebratory dinner on Sunday evening, the organizers hosted a party outdoors (in 20F snowy weather!) with music, local liquor and spit roasted mutton over fire pits.
The crowd of 200+ Tibetans, Qiang and Han Chinese along with a few stray foreigners, assembled to enjoy the range of music under softly but steadily falling snow. Somehow partying to everything from Guozhuang folk songs, Korean K-Pop, Mandarin rap sung over wickedly cool 70’s R&B, Chinese pop songs and current English Pop covers, felt just right in the frightfully cold air (cue flashbacks from the final music improv scenes
from Close Encounters of the Third Kind).
As the mutton crisped, hipsters to chuba-clad traditionalists warmly greeted us, clicked the occasional selfie with us, and divvied up the delicious spiced and charred meat to devour. Everyone, the cops included, was just havin’ fun. Wisely we demurred in response to a few offers of long straws dipped into the pots of moonshine.
Since my non-existent Mandarin limited my range of conversation companions, I warmed to Yekaterina’s account of her journey from the frozen Siberian reaches of Novosibirsk to university in Chengdu (by way of an initial modeling gig in Beijing) and her part time gig in an all-foreigner English cover band there.
As an apt non-sequitur, every so often a small drone quadricopter floated
overhead on a fan of air, winking its red eye as if to survey the assembled supplicants, while the crowd below greeted it below with a roar.
Something elemental about the combination of music, meat and hooch, creates a communal experience that binds rather than separates. Last night was one of my most enjoyable experiences in China. Perhaps driven by the realization that we are indeed all the same, I left with a heady and optimistic sense that we will all be OK in this global world, bound together
by our differences and a common humanity. What about this rave, ringed by the spectacular mountains of the mystical 9 villages of Jiuzhaigou (what a strangely alluring name!), was special? Perhaps you should find out for yourself!