Ain’t Nuthin’ But a Gangster Party

I once only knew this as the intro to a 2pac song, but it’s also a fairly comprehensive report of the gig that I had tonight in Xin Du, an smaller outlying city just outside of Chengdu. I was brought here by Yang, a metal-band drummer friend of mine who lives in Chengdu. Evidently his sister and her mafia-boss boyfriend own and manage the only large nightclub in all of Xin Du. Tonight is the boss’ 30th birthday.

Like lots of gigs I have outside of large cities, tonight was a psuedo-clown gig in that I’m really hired halfway on account of being caucasian. Certainly not something to brag about, but it pays my bills and allows me to fund the projects that really count – like the barbeque this Saturday. :master:

So, I show up expecting to play house music. I start playing and within 15 minutes I’m stopped by the house DJ who insists that I play the CD he gives me which someone will sing to. I play the song, it is so terrible it makes me visibly cringe, and a late-20’s Chinese girl climbs the stage and sings this karaoke song. It’s something I’ve experienced hundreds of times, yet it still strikes me as unnervingly awful. She finishes her song and I keep playing, which lasts for about 20 minutes before I’m handed the next CD. This time it’s 3 guys dressed as Michael Jackson. As they’re mid-routine one of the bosses of the club approaches me and collects my opinion – “I think there should only be one Michael Jackson at a time”, I say, which appears to baffle and then stun him. The Jacksons finish and I continue my now-totally fractured set, which lasts for 15 minutes before the next CD comes. As this point I have long abandoned any investment I had in ensuring that I’m on top of things, so I quickly drink 2 beers while a guy wearing sunglasses and tight pants yells at the audience, commanding them to raise their hands as he yells along with what sounds like music made by deaf people. So, everything is going well. :quagmire:

Now somes the cake cutting. The music gets turned down several times as the OG head boss gets on the mic and professes his love to all of his friends, fellow OGs, and his girlfriend who he then kneels and proposes to. It was pretty excellent, I’ve never witnessed someone propose before. Continuing on this high, the show carries on with renewed vigor and excitement. Pieces of this enormous pillared 6-level cake (which appeared identical to a wedding cake) get passed around as pepole wave glowsticks in the air and bartenders behind the bar juggle flaming bottles and we all listen to Breathe by The Prodigy.

Then the music turns off. Not gradually, all at once. I look up to see what’s happened and find that I’m surrounded by police. This isn’t the first time this has happened, so I’m not nearly as shocked as I was a few weeks ago when this happened to me most recently. What I’m curious about is what drew police here, as up until this point I didn’t have any knowledge of the mafia ties that the birthday boy and his comrades here had. I’m pulled into a back room by Yang who cooly explains the situation to me.

“Look, my sisters boyfriend is the biggest mafia boss around here, all of the cops know him and take every opportunity they can to fuck with him. I’m sorry, lets rest and have a drink”

We have a few drinks with our crew of performers, about 10 people, and later head outside where the street is filled with polce vehicles. Not only ordinary police cars but a giant 25-person Police bus which looked too comfortable for prisoners and too big for police to use. Just as I got into the front seat of the car that I’m sitting in now I saw two men with hands cuffed behind their backs led into police cars. Wondering what they did, I ask the driver what happened – caught with guns and drugs. At least one of those men I had met tonight, and no one at all gave me the impression that they were anything but friendly people who I felt safe hanging out with. Obviously there is no motive for the to act any differently to me, but it’s not often that I’m hanging out with the mafia hours before they’re hauled away by police. I never saw the boss himself after the cake segment.

Tomorrow is my last day of rest before the MC battle on the 17th, the barbeque party on the 18th, a club gig in Kunming on the 19th, and then a week of vacation in beautiful Yunnan before gigs in Wuhan the following weekend of the 24/25.

This gangsta party ends as I sit in the passenger seat in a small Citroen on the 30 minute drive back to Chengdu. It’s 1:46am, raining outside, and the streets are empty.