Me and Chairman Mao
  Model behavior.
One of the big malls near our apartment has a large, empty area right smack in the middle of the building that is used for special events, promotions, and things like that. In the past few weeks, it's been home to a huge stage to show off toys from some company in Hong Kong, a bunch of airline seats to show everyone just how good first class passengers have it on Singapore airlines, and even a big old tent to promote Bailey's Irish Cream that had a bar in it that only served shots of Bailey's. It would have been better with coffee of course, but who am I to argue with free liquor? Or is that liqueur? How confusing.

Whatever. What matters is that last weekend I saw what was definitely the best event ever. Or at least the best event of the fifteen or so I've seen in the eight weeks I've been in Shanghai, but I'm comfortable with gross generalizations so it's no big deal. What was this amazing spectacle? A swimsuit show! In the center of this insanely crowded, ginormous mall (it's something like 1.5 million square feet in size) there was a white platform with three or four groups of mirrors scattered about--the whole setup looked like a video for a cheesy mid-Eighties love song by some equally cheesy band (Air Supply, I'm looking at you!)--and a woman in a bikini prancing around the stage while pressing her self suggestively up against the aforementioned mirrors. And as if this scene wasn't strange enough, she was also wearing a big, feathery, Mardi Gras-style mask the entire time, presumably because she was--quite rightly--embarrassed to be slinking around suggestively in the middle of a mall on a Saturday afternoon wearing nothing but a white bikini and a big-ass black-feathered mask. Imagine that.

What really made the entire thing really surreal, however, was the crowd. The very large, male-dominated crowd (surprise) that pressed in on the stage from every side. They were so excited about it all that the whole thing seemed like something out of Girls Gone Wild. (Or at least what I imagine something out of Girls Gone Wild would be like, since I’m not really familiar with that particular series, apart from the plethora of late night cable TV commercials.) From the amount of cameras trained on her and the sheer volume of people continuously pushing each other out of the way for a better viewing angle, you'd think she was about to strip off her bikini (which was about as unrevealing as a bikini could be, for the record) and start pole-dancing right outside the Nautica and Lacoste stores, although the crowd was already so electrified I'm not sure it would have made any difference.

And besides, as far as I know, maybe she did--I didn't stick around. Instead I laughed, shook my head, thought "I wish I had my camera with me!" for about the thousandth time since I've been here, and went home. Sadly, I didn't pass by any more dancing bikini girls on the way ...
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