Part 6: Wang Leehom Autographs Albums in Changzhou
Have I mentioned that Changzhou, with its population of 3 million, is considered a small city? (Yes, I know the sentiment that a city of population 3 million can’t be possibly be that small, but consider that Shanghai has a population of over 14 million and reframe things in that perspective.) Despite Changzhou’s efforts to promote tourism, people are unlikely to view Changzhou as a destination hotspot over Shanghai. So it was a complete surprise when Wang Leehom decided to drop by for an autograph session as part of his album promotion tour that included Beijing, Nanjing, Changzhou, and Hong Kong. I’ve tried to explain Leehom to non-Chinese people and get asked, “If he’s really world famous, why haven’t I heard of him?” For the same reason why no Asians got nominated for any Oscars this year…
For those who know me, I’m a dedicated fan. So, at 8:30 on the morning of, I hailed a taxi to drive me to Wandu Furniture Store, which was the largest empty furniture store in the middle of nowhere that I had ever seen. Unfortunately, my Chinese co-worker who was also a big fan was sick, and I spent 5 hours with a mask and without 3G in the growing heat, humidity, and pollution, outside this furniture store in the middle of nowhere by myself. (The month prior, I traveled 11 hours on 6 different modes of public transportation to attend his concert and autograph session, so you understand how many elements (pun intended) I’m willing to brave for a Leehom sighting.) I had not much to do but take in my surroundings and wait to be let inside.
When I saw him in Taipei, people were allowed to buy his CD from any store and bring it to the stage. During this event, people had to buy the 99 kuai album from the tents outside which had the sticker that marked that it was for Changzhou. I believe they sold out. Things were pretty quiet sitting in line until about 1 pm, when a lot more people started showing up. Security arrived, marching. A lot of people who looked like villagers arrived and were crowding the area near the entrance. At this point, I felt like there was going to be a lot of pushing and shoving. Thankfully, endurance paid off and I was finally let inside. The whole experience was pretty short for me, as Leehom signs albums really quickly. I stayed a while to watch other people creating spectacles by yelling his name repeatedly until he addressed the crowd. In hindsight, what I should have done was bring along someone non-Asian, as this would have created a bigger spectacle. I watched two of my other coworkers wave shaking their palms left and right in rapid motion until he acknowledged them.
When I left I saw that the line had snaked around the whole otherwise empty furniture store in the middle of nowhere in the small city of Changzhou.