Saturday, November 05, 2005

Xinjiang ProvinceWent to see a Chinese band from Xinjiang last night, Askar and Gray Wolf, at the New Get Lucky bar and restaurant. I'm not sure if the spelling of the band's name is correct, as it was difficult to locate any information on the internet (probably everything is in Chinese), but the music blew my socks off. It was a blend of traditional melodies and instruments from Xinjiang province with rock & roll. It made for quite an energetic and unique mix.

We arrived a little before 9PM to a relatively empty venue, paid our 30 RMB admission, and entered the low-lit but spacious room. We sat down in front of the stage, on the edge of a small dance floor directly in front of the stage, happy to have such excellent seats, and ordered food and beers as none of us had eaten. We were excited about the fare, claiming to be Egyptian cuisine, which was well worth it as we all thought it some of the finest hummus, tabouleh and babganoush we'd ever sampled. While we were eating, friends arrived and said hello while the New Get Lucky continued to fill steadily. There was a nice vibe in the air. We finished eating shortly before the performers took the stage, around 9:30PM, and by then the house was packed.

Uighur MusicianThe band, consisting of about eight musicians playing rock staples such as electric & bass guitars, drum kit, and synthesizer, played for about one hour before taking a break. The band also featured three traditional instrumentalists: two musicians playing stringed instruments (one of the stringed instruments looked like this and another had a much longer neck) and a percussionist. Near the end of the first set, many of the people began dancing in an unusual way by holding their arms out and turning their bodies while circling their partners. I was told that they were Xinjiang people. The band played one more set which brought the house down. The dance floor was crammed with people and, looking around, everyone seemed to have smiles on their faces.

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