|Singing their own rendition of Lady Gaga's Telephone|
The annual company dinners in Hong Kong and China are a spectacle to say the least.
That's because it usually entails a talent show and there is no shortage of employees eager to show off in front of a crowd including their bosses -- a concept I can't quite understand.
Many of these wannabe artistes either sing, dance, play an instrument or perform skits.
I was struck by how some people who were normally reserved, immediately blossomed on stage once they were given a microphone. How they sounded was another story, but they really did imagine themselves emulating their favourite singers.
In Beijing one group even did a parody of how senior Chinese leaders have a posse of people who fawn over them and make sure they clap at the right times, while the leaders themselves clap as politely as the Queen.
Another group of girls lip-synched and danced to a popular Korean song called Nobody But You by the Wonder Girls. They would make perfect back-up dancers for any Cantopop star, dancing in almost perfect unison.
This time in Hong Kong the talent ranged from singing Cantopop and Mandopop, a guy playing the electric guitar and singing Dead or Alive a la Bon Jovi, a magician who seemed to have many silk scarves that revealed white doves, a Filipino who sang a Chinese song (with the lyrics taped to the back of his folded fan), and a group that modified Lady Gaga's Telephone so that some of the lyrics reflected our workplace.
Then apart from the table prizes there was a lucky draw that included cash and items ranging from show tickets, gift coupons at various stores, there was also a Louis Vuitton handbag and iPad up for grabs.
But that wasn't all.
The tables were turned on the senior management, who had to go up on stage and play a game. Split into two teams, each person had a balloon that they had to take turns sitting on the balloon to pop it. The team that popped all the balloons first was the winner. Then the losing team was subjected to more humiliation and had to copy the dance moves in a series of music videos projected on a big screen. Of course the employees found this amusing, but some of the Caucasians in senior management were taken aback. However, once you're on stage, you just have to realize this is all for fun and making fun of yourself for five minutes is considered company bonding.
One gweilo almost refused to take part, as it entailed him to dance with another guy to Rock Around the Clock. After the emcee tried to encourage him to do this for team spirit did he reluctantly do so, but everyone appreciated his effort. Seems like no one warned him he might have to act like a fool for one evening.
So for some people the annual dinner is a must attend, while others avoid it like the plague. While it wasn't as bad as pulling teeth, it was good fun and thankfully only once a year.