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I had a pleasant walk through Taipei today. I am finally realising that there are in fact old buildings in Taipei and that they are not all concrete monstrocities. In fact, many of the 1-storey concrete buildings, upon closer inspection, are indeed original Japanese-era constructions clad with concrete and roofed with steel. You can see the original building poking through occasionally, or where the concrete has fallen away, revealing the old brick-work.

Another brick in the wall

I ended up in Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall area (see my previous visit here), where I joined most of the young people of Taipei for their weekly music and dance sessions. It’s funny, and very different from home. The square is dominated on two sides by large halls that house the national theatre. In front of these halls are large windows, and in front of them are areas covered by the awnings of the roof.

In the reflections of these windows you will find team upon team of dancers, using the area to practice. Next to where I was there was a large acrobatic squad chucking girls high into the air, break dancers and RnB kids busting their grooves. It was an amazing sight. The sounds, however, were what made it memorable. In the square at the same time was a large brass band competition and the tiny Getto Blasters could certainly not compete. As a result, the scene I remember is of hip hop kids spinning out to the beats of … brass.

In the red corner … brass band

Gravitational Effects

In the blue corner – hip hoppers

Kids enjoying the scene

One of the most interesting things is the way that the kids are doing the youth culture thing. It seems to be subtley different. Here you get one ‘alpha’ kid doing the dance moves and teaching it to the others, right down to the small shoulder flicks and attitude. In Europe I think it would be more like freestyle and people competing. I have heard many time the ‘confucian’ attitude to doing things (master and student) is what explains some of the cultural differences. I have maybe even seen it in their attitude to copying electronics goods – you learn from the master, copy him, and when you master it you can express your own ideas. Perhaps.

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