Saturday, 1 November 2008


My second Halloween in China was largely spent standing on a tiny stage in a bar introducing games to a rather large audience of students and strangers.

I arrived at Web in the afternoon to meet my co-host for the evening, Candy, to plan the lines we would be saying at the party. It took ten minutes to get everything sorted out, and we were confident that the night should go off without a hitch. In the back of my mind I was still worrying about my Joker costume (see left). I was waiting for Johann to bring the face paint, Kimi -- who would be applying my make-up -- was still at work, and Michelle -- who very kindly offered to take out the sewn in t-shirt that was inside the purple jacket I bought -- would be bringing the jacket and a tie just before the beginning of the party.

By 4 o'clock Johann came with paint in hand. There was the problem -- it wasn't face paint, but poster paint. Considering this stuff would be covering all of my face, I decided not to risk using it. I called Kimi and we went back to plan A (because I think we were on plan B by that point). Previously she had found a costume shop that was specifically aimed at Beijing Opera. The actors wear white face paint in all of the plays, it was perfect. Time was running out very rapidly so we took a taxi directly to the shop and back. One tube of face paint cost just 6 yuan, the taxi fare was 20.

After we got back home Kimi began her work. Out of nowhere she suddenly became a professional make-up artist, a completely hidden skill. I sat in my chair as my hair was pinned back and sprayed, the paint was applied, black eye shadow smudged all around my eyes, and finally the lipstick. I looked in the mirror, "wow", it was brilliant.

Kimi decided to accompany me to the party because she was worried I wouldn't be able to get a taxi to the bar with my face as it was. The minute I exited my apartment building it was like I had just turned into a human beacon. Everybody was starring at me in disbelief, a few children were scared also. We had to wait a while for a taxi, they all seemed to be full at the very moment one was desperately needed (we were rushing at this point). Finally a vacant one turned the corner, we flagged it down, and sped to the bar.

Once I entered the "161 Bar" all of the staff went hysterical when they saw my face, just what I wanted. It was a few minutes before show time, and with perfect timing, Michelle came with my jacket and tie. Finally, the costume was complete -- and it looked great (thank you Kimi and thank you Michelle).

I'm sure none of the students were aware of the character I was dressing as, which was of no consequence because the outfit was certainly causing the right kind of reaction I had hoped for.

Me with Michelle

The party started promptly, and it was time for Candy and I to make our way to the incredibly small stage. We were handed a microphone each and began introducing some information about the holiday, I spoke English and Candy translated into Chinese. Once the formalities were over it was time for the games. Each foreign teacher with accompanying tutors took it in turns to play the games, I didn't have to take part due to being on hosting duties.

Candy and I doing what we do best

The bar filled up to bursting point and the games became quite hectic, but things were running smoothly, and everybody seemed to be having fun. I just had to keep running back to the stage at the end of every game to introduce the next one. We played "Magic Box", "Mummy Wrapping", "Balloon Popping", "Best Costume", and "Bobbing for Apples" -- I will let you guess what some of these entailed.

The students had to pay to enter the party, but they were given one bottle of beer and a mask to join in with the fancy dress (not many students were au faux with the concept of a fancy dress party and didn't have a clue what to dress as). I was talking to another student, Jessy who was holding her free bottle of beer. She told me that she was thirsty and didn't like to drink beer. I asked why she didn't get a bottle of water instead, she replied saying that they would only give her beer at the bar. Interesting to see that water is now more valuable than beer in Wenzhou.

The crowded bar, with Johann and Paul trapped at the back

Jolin on the left, with two other students I can't recognise, holding their free beers

Chuck, Candy, me, and a student who seems to be having whale of a time

I was genuinely surprised that a second flash came from the camera (Kimi made me upload this one)

The final game of the night was bobbing for apples. The only traditional game of the lot, and also the most fun too. There was water everywhere, and the students were really getting into the spirit of things. Once there was enough water to cover most of the floor of the bar, it was time to wrap up the night. For the final time, Candy and I jumped on stage and we said our goodbyes. Within a minute the bar was practically empty, no hanging around here.

Bobbing for apples (perfect timing)

Me and my fabulous make-up artist, Kimi

Happy Halloween -- if there is even supposed to be such a thing.


大眼睛熊 said...

Ohh babe,I love the pics of yours,they're just hilarious hahaha!! You totally won the best costume of the night,everybody loved it!! :D

Sally said...

Christopher you look amazing.....very very scary!!! Kimmi did a really good job with your make up (which i'm glad were not poster paints in the end!) x

Ihengsi said...

Great pictures! Somehow I just can't image celebrating Halloween in Wenzhou. You did a fantastic job at bringing a bit of Western tradition to my hometown.

Chris said...

Thank you for the comments. It was a good night, if not a little tiring. I didn't expect the make-up to look as good as it did, I loved it! Xie xie again Kimi.

Anonymous said... bear a striking resemblance to the late Heath Ledger!!

He definitely deserves a post death oscar for his role in that film, by the bye.

Good stuff. You have made me slightly melancholy. Earning money isnt everything , is it?

Chris said...

Thanks Alex! It's all down to Kimi really, she did an amazing job with me.

I agree with the post death oscar, I think it's genuinely deserved after watching his performance in the film.

You're right, earning money isn't everything. Are you still weighing up your options of what to do next?