Culture adjustment in China

By Pauline D.Loh ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-10 08:09:56

Punishment before pleasure. That seems to be the general theme for art lovers in Beijing who actually pay good money to attend plays, concerts or other performances.

First, it is hard to find a venue in the Forbidden City that has a decent lobby with a driveway in front where concert-goers can be dropped off by train, taxi or private transport. Forget the glorified image you see in films and television that has guests arriving bedecked in jewels and minks and elegantly trotting up the red carpet to the best seats in the hall.

In reality, you are likely to be picking your way in the dark through cordoned car parks or courtyards before you are subjected to at least two gauntlets of rigorous security checks, including some rough electronic frisking sometimes.

The first time you attend a concert in Beijing, you are subjected to culture shock of a very literal kind, especially if you are a regular patron of the arts in other countries.

I have often wondered why there is such extreme suspicion of those who actively support the arts.

It seems a rather surly attitude and strangely at odds with the constant appeal for the hoi polloi to be more aware of the rich cultural landscape and to give aspiring artistes a much needed platform.

We have beautiful hardware, and we are just waiting for the software to catch up.

It's all about being comfortable with a certain standard of living, says a friend who organizes concerts for Chinese artistes overseas.

Pre-performance drinks and an after-concert meal are part of the experience abroad, she says, and event managers often team up with hotels or restaurants to complete the package. Sometimes, it may even include a one-night stay for those who make the trip to see the show from out of town.

In China, the concert-going experience is still not quite there in terms of lifestyle priority, or so it seems.

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