Ride the Wild Surf

So, I am on a Shanghai weekend bender. My friends and I are at a big-time club. Jewellery. Big hair. Stacks of speakers. Bentleys and Audis line the street. Red carpet runs up the stairs. Waiters and barmen rush around. The men are in shiny suits. Patent leather shoes. Three DJs spin the latest international tracks. Whisky, Tequila, Vodka, Sambucca, Beer, Champagne. People gamble for their drinks. Fruit platters dot the tables. Decadence all around

I eat some watermelon.

I fall out onto the street. Too much beer. Too much whisky.

Then I hear the song “Ride the Wild Surf” by Jan and Dean travelling through the night air.  Huh?! At first I think I am hearing things. No, there it is warbling away. I walk off into the night to find the source of this surf music in Shanghai.

The song travels out into the night air from inside a government office building. There is a white board with two Chinese characters in black ink “Dance Party” (wu hui). There is a pamphlet. It says a social dance club has parties on most weekend nights. Parties last three hours, and they charge 20 RMB  to get in (3 USD).  One or two people sit at the door selling tickets and passing out numbered paper cups. I don’t know why the paper cups are numbered. Inside the dance hall folding chairs line the walls and a table stands on the side for bottled water, tea, and more numbered paper cups. The lighting is plain ceiling lights with a switch on the wall to adjust the brightness. There is mirror ball in a cardboard box. Some balloons dance on the airconditioned breeze.The women wear long flowing skirts and a knit top seems to be the fashion choice of the moment. The men sport slacks and a button-up shirt, occasionally with a jacket and a tie. The dance music is a medley of Chinese pop songs, folk songs, and Western popular music, such as the theme song from the movie Titanic. People dance three-step, waltz, fox trot, tango, jitterbug, cha-chas, rumba. Popular is “Yang’ge,” a folk line dance common from early Chinese Communist revolutionary era. I try to follow the dancers’ lead, but I fail.

I am invited to a karaoke bar next door. I tell them I am Dean, not Jan. They don’t understand a word of English. I sing Ride the Wild Surf for them. People dance, clap, cheer and sing along.