Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Night on the Town

I've been in Beijing a few weeks now, so I think it's time I blogged about what I do on the weekends.

Here's what happens. Friday comes, the diligent go to class at 8:00 like usual. The afternoon is frittered away with fun, people eat dinner, and then everything starts like it's a new day. Plans are made, people get together, everyone in Beijing finds a taxi and goes out. There is one street that has a strip of clubs and bars which everyone knows, even the ones who can't write their own name in Chinese.

It's complicated in my case because I live with a Chinese family rather than with everyone else at school. Usually if we go out I end up just sleeping on somebody's couch rather than paying for a taxi to go home late at night.

Last night was pretty typical of my weekends. After dinner, I went to school and watched a (pirated) movie with Emma, this girl I know pretty well. Then, around 11, we met up with other people from school and rented a small van to take us to the club that someone had decided we would go to. The driver got lost, but around midnight we arrived, just when things were getting going.

I would describe the club in usual terms, but I'm struck by how similar it is to my daily bus commute: crowded beyond belief, everyone sweating, people jockeying for the seats, no one able to have a conversation. Our bodies reverberating from the music about equaled the jolting I get from the stop-and-start of the bus.

There are significant differences, however. Getting into the club was more than 100 times more expensive than boarding the bus. Surprisingly, there are more poles on the bus than in the club. People are generally more drunk in the club, and less tired. There are lasers in the clubs, and shiny decorations, and the only thing shiny on buses are people's iPods.

Oh, and the dancing. Chinese people, in general, don't know how to dance, and them being risque is what we Americans see at 7th grade school dances. But they try really hard, and since the music is mostly in English, it just feels like they're trying to be American and failing. Correspondingly, my self-esteem is always boosted by going to a club in China and knowing that I'm better than everyone because I know what "I'm bringing sexy back" means. (Well, as much as it has a meaning.)

I tire of the techno beats, smoke, lights, sound, and people pretty fast, so I left with Emma at only 2 am. She and I had a long discussion at McDonald's where we promised we wouldn't fall in love with each other, because she has a serious boyfriend and that would make things complicated. By the time I went to bed Chinese were out making baozi already for breakfast and the sun was coming up.

At 5 am, Friday--the sequel!--was over and I crashed on a couch way too small for me that felt fantastic. And that's how we do here in the Beijing.

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