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An outdoor music festival, a crush of people, a police crackdown. Welcome to China.
It took a personal introduction to the China Performing Arts Agency and a number of video screenings to get clearance for the event. The Ministry of Culture is keen, according to Wong, to move away from the somewhat staid "5,000 years of culture" tag that is often attached to China, and explore something more modern.
However, despite the CPAA's best intentions, the buck does not stop with the agency or even the ministry that it operates under. The real power, and where the bucks do actually stop (at least until they can be redistributed to the various palms concerned), is with the local police, fire brigade and security services. So even with a convoy of trucks carrying sound and lighting equipment near 100 meters long parked up on Beijing's sixth ring road, it was still not clear whether the festival would happen.
Acupuncture has been running parties in the capital for two years but the label had never tried anything as ambitious as a 15-hour music marathon before, and the authorities had no experience dealing with such a request.
It came as little surprise, then, when the hundreds of security officials who had kept a reserved distance throughout the day made their way towards the front of the stage as the end of the outdoor section of of the festival approached, and told the organizers to cancel the rest of the party. The disappointment manifested itself in the forlorn figure of resident DJ Pancake Lee, who sat disconsolate by the side of the stage as crew members began dismantling the set. "Look," he said, "we've worked so hard for this and it's ended in failure. Some things don't change."
But that the organizers pulled off what partygoer Andrew Hunt, 32, described as "a truly amazing and progressive event" is testament to their dedication and hard work. International artists from Germany's Chris Liebing and M.A.N.D.Y. Philip to the U.K.'s Italoboyz, on their first trip to China, have pledged to return next year.
Acupuncture's first foray into the administrative minefield that is hosting any large public event in China ultimately ended in disappointment. But the festival was called "Intro" for a reason. It has put Beijing on the map. "It'll be step by step," Wong said. This was only the beginning."
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