Beijing Rock Scene Is Inspired by Western Hipster Chic Rather Than the Search for a Deeper Soul

Danwei’s Alice Xin Liu writes on Huffington Post:

It was the first day of summer in Beijing. It also happened to be the May holiday, when Chinese people had three days off in honor of International Workers’ Day. Holiday is a rare treat in the booming city, and the metropolitan youth poured into public parks to enjoy a new type of leisure activity: the rock festival. However, not everyone is there to hear the music. Instead, they give cool looks and are aloof, eyes gazing idly towards the bands. They dress retro, hip, bohemian, punk, creative, whatever. Consuming this “alternative” trend has become the mainstream fashion of the day.

There was a time when rock meant more. But twenty years have passed, and the first rockers — Cui Jian, He Yong — are now worshiped as saints of a bygone era and a more fashionable reason, namely having style, has sprung up and overtaken what the old rockers stood for — freedom of speech and liberalization. Bands now sing about material things, observing people’s opinions on money and the need for affluent lives. Not only this, increasingly more people on the scene need to have an outfit first — an outfit that befits the lifestyle.

For He Yong, allegedly China’s first punk (debuting in ’89), the legacy that he left was actually his dress code: a white and blue striped T-Shirt, sailor-like, coupled with a synthetic-looking red scarf originally seen on the necks of schoolchildren who were Young Pioneers (for school kids, this is the first time they pledge allegiance to the Communist Party). The symbolism of the red scarf has now disappeared, as adults walk around looking clownish. The fabric isn’t worn; instead, it looks mass produced and brand new.


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