Fa Zi is in demand, however, so being fired from our Disco gig is only a small setback.
In the next few weeks he and I line up a two month contract at a club in the China World Trade Hotel on Jian Guo Men Wai Da Jie, only about two miles east of the Forbidden City. It is the biggest hotel in China and caters to foreigners (they’ve even added a third tower).
I had been offered a job training Guo Mao staff in english there and heard about a new bar opening up that would cater to foreigners with a Bai Ren (a southern ethnicity in China) buffet and a bar that would host a band to appeal to foreigners at the hotel.
That is how I find myself at the bar of a club in the biggest hotel in
China which resembles the Universal CityWalk in Hollywood minus the thirty-foot toothbrushes. The club, reputedly owned by Pierre Cardin, used to be named Maxim’s (the second he tried to open in town) until the rent went up.
The waitresses and cuisine are from Yunnan Province, a place in the south which is famous for its minority race (there are actually fifty-three separate recognized races in China) of Bai people who still wear amazingly large headdresses and bright batik clothing as a tradition.
Their food is excellent, including dishes that come served in
carved bamboo with a sweet rice wine.
However, the place was actually often pretty deserted since next door was the Brauhaus, a German-themed tavern where the hotel employees and patrons go to unwind and the beer is cheaper. They also have Philippino musicians there who play Eagles covers for the guests.
The Cardin jazz bar is hoping Fa Zi can help them out of the doldrums. Unfortunately, they’ve made the mistake of translating the name for the place from the Chinese into “Fairy’s Tribe”, a little unintelligible for some in terms of what the food might actually be like. Somehow, tourists are preferring The Brauhaus.
One night, to make sure they know we exist, we play at top volume and bring the gong in and bang on it all night. The next night management tells us to play a little quieter, but we’ve got some new recruits who come over from the beerhall to take a look at what all that racket is. (We play some fake jazz, which means me on the piano a lot, no vocals, but for the most part its our rock stylings which management has to tolerate).
Still, once Fa Zi’s two-month stand starts the place begins to turn the
The waitresses liked the music, anyway
One night Fa Zi packs the house with about fifty of his friends, assorted foreigners, and even rock and roll radio DJ Youdi shows up to check out Fa Zi’s show. Still, getting a draw outside the expat crowd is difficult because no one in China can afford the cost of a 10 yuan hotel bar beer when they only make 200 yuan a month total and beer on the street costs 2 yuan.
Fa Zi’s set list leans heavily on The Doors because Liu Lu Bing has the
greatest hits tape and he has learned the drums to Break On Through. Perhaps the stuporous abandonment of the Doors sounds good to the kids of a country too long suppressed.
Fa Zi’s songs are more varied. He has a funky riff one, several anthems and a lot of acoustic numbers. I like these best. He’s got a drinking song and he’s got a cover of “Let It Be” which all the waiters in the bar know and sing along with. One night we all get howling drunk on bad rice wine and the waiters start grabbing the mike and singing the tribute to Yuan Ming Yuan. The waiters also have some traditional instruments and they put on a small Bai Ren culture show as people eat.
Fa Zi’s lyrics on that one about China (set to the national anthem The East is Red, one describes the booming skyscrapers bursting skyward in modern China).
So we have a good time even if we don’t pull in the numbers in our first few weeks, and the air is alive with the sense that change is in the air and something historical is happening.
The next week, however, is a barn-burner of an event: the United Nations is in town!
Next Posts Unavailable:
UNITED NATIONS FOURTH CONFERENCE ON WOMEN >>>
POLICE ACTION AT THE YUAN MING YUAN GALLERIES >>>
MODERN CHINA: THE TRANSFORMATION IS COMPLETE >>>
(NOTE: these chapters –part of the soon to be published non-fiction book by Kevin J. Salveson– are unavailable on the web except by password. The printed first edition (Extab Media 2015) features chapters and photos un-available on any digital platform. Check the Extablisment website and store: www.extablisment.com as well as other fine book retailers such as Amazon.com for a release date.
Also, look for the Fa Zi story / Rock and Roll in China Film Script called Bend Your Ear in development right now. Or, if you are a producer who has the chops, you can purchase the rights to co-produce on the Extab website store for a mere $10,000 (plus the terms of a negotiable contract). Act fast, only a few in stock!)