Club Cantonese reclaims ‘Jook-Sing’
On Friday night in The Levin Ballroom in Usdan Student Center, Club Cantonese presented their second annual cultural show. The theme this year was Jook-Sing, which is a derogatory Cantonese term for people of Chinese descent born in the West. The term is derived from the word for bamboo, using its hollowness and compartmentalized nature to suggest that foreign-born Chinese people are empty of traditional Eastern values, but are not quite Western either. Club Cantonese chose this theme to challenge the derogatory nature of Jook-Sing, choosing to take pride in their dual heritage rather than be ashamed of it.
Annie Wong ’22 and Michael Leung ’21 emceed the event. They performed a bit where they were on their way to visit their fictional aunt. On the way, they would introduce the upcoming acts by pretending to spot the performers approaching the stage. Unfortunately, the emcees did not always speak very clearly, so it was hard to hear what they were saying. When you could hear them, the banter did not always land and it sometimes felt stilted and forced.
Despite the emcees, the performances in this show were generally very good. The flute player who opened the show was impressive, and the dances were entertaining. Dance Revelasian stood out with their beautiful choreography, flowery costumes and excellent lighting design.
Another highlight of the show was the introduction video, a hilarious mess. The members of the club split into groups and attempted to make egg tarts, competing to inherit the “Da Bao Bakery.” Incidentally, Da Bao is a Cantonese phrase used when one wishes to take the rest of a meal to go at a restaurant, and literally translates to “hit bread.” “We wanted to think of a good punny name for a bakery in the plot of our story,” remarked e-board member Adam Lamper ’19. Initially, each group was a spectacular failure, putting in salt instead of sugar, cracking eggs onto the kitchen counter and scooping them into the bowl with their hands, ordering a single egg tart from a nearby Chinese restaurant and forgetting to remove it from its plastic wrapping. In the end, when the judges threatened to give the bakery to The Brandeis Chinese Cultural Connection, the club banded together to create an excellent egg tart.
The last event of the show was the one everyone had been waiting for. Jeffrey Chang, a Youtuber/singer from Canada, was coming to Brandeis to give his first live performance. Unfortunately, he was unable to be at Brandeis in person because he was stopped by the border patrol on the way down from Canada, so he Skyped in for his performance.
Club Cantonese expected that he would just host a Q&A session, since singing on Skype could easily become a catastrophe. However, since the connection was surprisingly good, Chang sang a few songs, including Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” Justin Bieber’s “Cold Water” and his own song “Don’t Let Go.” The beauty of his voice was undeniable, though it would probably have been better in person. Chang clearly agreed, declaring to the audience, “Oh I wish I could just look at you in the eyes.”
In between his songs, Chang told us about his journey as a Youtuber/musician. After fellow Canadian Justin Bieber became popular through Youtube videos, Chang was inspired to make videos about his life, attaining a moderate level of fame as a result. However, just last year, he decided to pursue his decade-long dream of being a singer, and since then has made many videos showcasing his singing ability. Chang was very charming and open with us, admitting that he got emotional before the Skype call because he would not be able to perform live and telling us that he was thinking of making a Youtube video out of this experience.
Chinese food — including the Club Cantonese signature egg tarts — closed out the evening. It is undeniable that this show had some mishaps: people flubbing their lines, not speaking clearly and running around with microphones. However, parts of the show, like Chang’s performance, shone through the mishaps, creating an enjoyable evening for all.