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Artist detained after dropping shorts on stage during rock festival in China

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This representational picture shows a crowd watching an artist performing stage during a festival. — Unsplash/File
This representational picture shows a crowd watching an artist performing stage during a festival. — Unsplash/File

Authorities on Saturday detained a singer after he pulled down his trousers during a performance at a rock festival in northern China; this latest instance highlights the narrow line musicians must walk, in a nation where the freedom to express oneself is severely constrained.

A statement released on Monday by the local culture bureau of Shijiazhuang city said the singer who has been identified by the surname Ding, was detained by police for “damaging social morality.”

Meanwhile, a show organiser was fined $28,000 and suspended from hosting concerts, it added.

On Saturday during a performance at the Rock Home Town festival in the city, videos showing the lead of the band, Violent Champagne, removing his shorts went viral on Chinese social media.

The audience can be heard in the video yelling, “Drop the briefs!” however the footage reveals that the singer kept his underwear on.

Live performances in China have returned after years of lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but authorities closely monitor and react to events that cross political or moral lines, as demonstrated in Shijiazhuang, CNN reported.

Officials in the city of Shijiazhuang, the headquarters of the Hebei province that surrounds Beijing, have been eager to capitalise on the city’s reputation for its independent music scene.

With China’s post-COVID economic recovery being so sluggish, the city, earlier this month, said it will stage the Rock Home Town festival through October to help draw tourists and increase consumption.

However, in the wake of the singer’s incarceration, many online observers questioned how committed the authorities were to the rocking-out mentality.

“Shijiazhuang wants to be the City of Rock, but do you have that gene?” said a comment on China’s Twitter-like Weibo following the singer’s detention.

“Before you start to rock, you are rolled away,” another user said.

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