Hangzhou Reflections: Bar Fights – Rising Temperatures in the New China

04-November-06 at 10:41am

Have witnessed three fights in The Pond (which we foreigners call Hangzhou on account of its Lake). About 3 years ago a local drunk took exception to my friend and I having a quiet drink with two local girls. I remember a chair flying through the air, and then a lot of people fighting, even after all four of us had left. Then there was the street sign that was launched through the door of Night & Day, a well known café/bar… Some gang rivalry squabble…very messy, and bloody, but nonetheless more real than the pseudo-Latino band on stage. However, the worst of all fights was the one outside a convenience store between two women, with long hair and very long nails…. a lot of screaming, worse than that screeching blackboard sound, hair pulling and scratching..

What was interesting in all three cases: nobody intervened to stop the fights and not a sign of a policeman.

Yet, it’s worth noting that the Pond has a huge pressure-cooker population, at 9 million plus, twice the size of Ireland, where we also like a good fisticuffs after a few too many.

To quote Oscar Wilde "work is the curse of the drinking classes", which is as true in China as it is back home.

On the subject of arguments, it’s quite common to see pitched verbal battles between neighbours being taken out to the streets.  A crowd of onlookers quickly forms with opinions aired and shared.  Usually a consensus is reached. The thought of taking the family laundry outside for a good public airing in front of all the neighbours would be almost unheard of in Ireland. However, much like the very public, rather than personal one-to-one, consultation with a doctor that is typical of any hospital visit, here there is little privacy.

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