At medical science conferences, the delegates usually follow a strict program:
1. Get absolutely smashed the first night on welcome drinks (scientists are not paid that much and many are also quite cheap, so “free drinks” means that you really have to go for it).
2. Drag yourself out of bed the next morning; if you are unlucky to present the day after welcome drinks you do so with seedy eyes and alcoholic breath.
3. Perk up and look serious for the rest of the conference.
In China, this didn’t happen. Alcohol is not consumed in heavy quantities here, maybe due to the fact that many Chinese lack the efficient form of alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme that detoxifies ethanol. As a result, Chinese people get drunk very easily. In any case, for this banquet, alco supply was limited to two bottles of wine per table seating 8 people. The food, however, was more than plentiful and kicked all Yum Cha’s I’d ever tasted’s arses. The rice pork buns were to die for.After an hour or so, entertainment began, starting with a local singer, then a zither player, followed by two acrobatic rollerskaters who twirled and spun around at faster and faster rates. The finale was a dramatic performance in which the smaller (younger, as in maybe 6 years old) girl was spun around very fast from a rope around her neck. Just as everyone recovered from fear of the little girl coming loose and catapulting out over the audience, an even more terrifying part of the entertainment program began. The singing.
A Chinese doctor went up on stage and invited everyone to come up and sing a song from their country. I thought he was joking, but apparantly, this is standard in China. And sure enough, within minutes the Asian professors went on stage, one after another, belting out tunes in surprisingly powerful voices. Even more surprisingly was that the Europeans, Indians, Americans and Aussies followed, unfuelled by alchohol. Quite heart-warming but a little squirmish at the same time. I escaped, hiding behind James, which was extremely lucky for the other conference delegates.
So, what did I wear to this occasion? I picked my Free People Emily lace slip, worn over my vintage Chloe silk blouse (Ebay steal) and a black short skirt. I added my favourite black leather vintage belt and a matching pair of vintage heels.