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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Hong Kong II: Hong Konger

Would I like to come and perform at the Udderbelly, with these idiots, in bloody Hong Kong? No brainer. And yes, I did have my little issues with Beijing a few weeks earlier, but Hong Kong is a completely different beast, and fast becoming one of my favourite cities in the world, so sign me the hell up!

Four nights with the "Edinburgh Fringe All-stars" show, and we had lovely audiences for every single show. And as for the daytimes, well, when you're somewhere like this you don't want to waste a second, so me & the gentlemen from Abandoman hit Ocean Park, the huge (and I mean HUGE) theme park and immediately reverted to twelve year old versions of ourselves. Dolphins doing tricks! Sharks! Pandas! Rollercoasters! Log Flumes! An evil thing that winches you straight up really really high, then waits for a seemingly random length of pause, and then drops you in such a way that every synapse in your lizard brain is screaming "This only ever ends in death" at you, and then you're fine and want to do it again. It basically left us exactly like this.

Also found time to go and hang out with old pal, and diablo genius, Donald Grant, who was performing in a circus in town. Really enjoying hanging out with the trad circus gang, and meeting the dancers, each one of whom was introduced by Donald as "She's the best dancer". Smooth.

The circus show itself was great. I always get a bit emotional watching trad circus in a way that no modern circus has ever made me feel. There's something wonderful about the iconography, style, even some of the routines, being unchanged for so long. I saw the 2pm show. The first of four performances that day, so predictably - and this is absolutely no reflection on the quality of the show - the audience was a bit thin. But they gave it everything. Not a dead eye among the dancers. Not a lazy beat by the clown. And there's something that I, at least, find very moving and noble about performers literally, actually risking their life for their art, and for a handful of people at 2pm on a windy afternoon. Performing tricks and routines that have killed people in the ring, and probably will again. The size of the crowd isn't relevant. They are circus performers. They defy death, and beautifully. It's why they're here, and it's what they do. How many other art forms have that level of unquestioning commitment for their practitioners? I can only think of one similar, and that also takes place in a ring. Good for them, and yay circus.

As regular readers might know, I suffer from a fun little grab-bag of mental health issues - depression and anxiety disorder leading the pack. This means that in the past, while on gigs similar to this, I've often given in to those illnesses and stayed in my hotel room like a hermit between shows. Safe there. Controlled environment. And this is by no means any kind of judgement on people who do the same - you gotta do what you gotta do to be comfortable and stable. But I've been trying to play better with others recently, and I consciously tried to do it on this trip. Boy it paid off. Obviously going to Ocean Park with the Abandoman boys was brilliant. But also smaller things that I might not have done in the past - hanging out a bit with the cast and (wonderful) Udderbelly crew, going for lovely cocktails at the hotel rooftop bar post-show, stuff like that, which sometimes you have to work quite hard to make seem casual and inconsequential, when of course, it very much isn't.

So, thanks to everyone who's face I saw in Hong Kong. I had the most delightful time, and you all helped make that happen. What a fortuitous boy I am, to get the chance to chase these little adventures and meet so many excellent people.

 As per usual, I took my camera. Hope you like..

And now I have a couple of days of R&R, and then it's time to join the big Brian Conley tour. I was his support act a year and a bit ago and had a ball, so I can't wait to be go back on the road with him. 32 dates, all over the place. Wheee!

1 comment:

Stark Radio said...

Lovely photographs, Mat. Sounds like you had fun!