Unsurprisingly, Beijing’s summer is coming a bit late this year. Perhaps it has something to do with global warming. One interesting theory put it into the context of energy conservation, so the strange weather patterns are caused when one part of the world becomes hotter, another part has to become cooler to balance it out. Effectively, the amount of energy in a closed system doesn’t change, it just flows differently.
To use more everyday examples, If you cook a meal with gas, the energy preserved in the gas tank transforms into the form of heat for a nice stew; if you drive a car, the energy in the gasoline transforms into a combination of heat and motion, moving your car forward, as well as heating up the hood. In whichever instance, energy changes form, but the total amount is always conserved. Not much more, not much less.
If my memory serves me correctly, several years ago, by April summer season would kick into full gear. But in recent years, April is still like chilly spring due to the influence of global warming. The Beijingers just have to deal with the chilling temperature with several layers on body and wait for a long-awaited summer. I am a mega fan of the second season of a year. I love its dawn light, its fresh morning air, and its sun-burnt afternoon that sent people into drowsy status, its frozen watermelon and cold beer, its late night that feels like cool water dripping along your body.
This explains my excitement the other day after waking up to find a early summer morning outside window, accompanied by the common scene in Beijing spring with catkins drifting in the wind. I believe that Beijingers’ have been waiting for this moment for so long. And also it was a timely arrival of the new season as the annual Strawberry Music Festival was on that day.
The canal park which holds the festival lies in the remote suburb areas of Beijing. After a million transfers and a bumpy ride, I made it with my other music junkie friends.
Even from miles away, we heard music rumbling throughout the venue. A good show was about to get started so we rushed to the queue to get in. We blamed it on our nature in chasing new tech as it turned out that there were too many people holding e-tickets with only one line for e-tickets but at least ten lines for paper ticket holders. So we waited in line with what seemed like half of Beijing’s population, anxiously.
After getting in, we separated to go on our pilgrimages for our own favourites. For me, it’s Joanna Wong, the Taiwaness jazz girl made famous by the piece Let’s Start from Here. The song soothed me through tons of sweet or bitter memories. Her show wouldn’t start till 6:30pm, so I wandered a bit around the venue.
10 minutes before her show started, I turned back only to find thousands of people gathered around the stage but I managed to elbow my way through the crowd anyway. Several minutes into her performance, I heard people shouting from the back calling for medical care for someone who passed out, probably from the heat or excitement, I assumed.
Daughter to quite a figure in Taiwan music world, Joanna developed her musical talents early on; her album dubbed Start from Here came out in 2008 and won her a place in me, as well as many others. Her voice that sounds like full-bodied liquor is one of the best agents for jazz. Yes you’ve heard better, but she’s on top of my list.
I vaguely remembered a friend who told me that she didn’t really appreciate the first few of her albums. Perhaps this was because Joanna was a slave to her music label’s demands but later she developed her own style, as any musical genius does. So she performed severalnarrative pieces, each one telling a story with one pictured a fight over remote control between siblings. Couldn’t recollect the others.
And then she took off. Maybe I’m too dumb to appreciate the beauty in her new effort but at least I got to take a close look at her. So I thought I should also leave but then a music junkie friend sent along a text invitation to the Strawberry Stage for a band called ‘New Trousers’. Instead of performing alone, the band introduced a middle-aged lady named Zhang Qiang to open up. People got in the groove and danced together. Everyone pogoed like we had sponges in our shoes, dancing to the groove, waving our hands and singing along.
She sang three pieces that dated back to 1980s China, when I was little. The first one being A Gust of Annoying Autumn Wind, the second Brother Louie and the third Sexy Music. The music, the crowd, the strobe lights, all brought me back to the late childhood memory. These three songs alone were totally worth the ticket price.
Sometimes we make a tonne of effort to do something, only to find it was all in vain with no result. Other times, we don’t even try or expect it and something great just comes along. And life is filled with a series of jokes like this. Nothing we can do about that.
But at least I had a great 10 minutes of 1980s in an early summer night in 2013, more than 2 decades later.
(Originally appeared on Medium)