2005 photo essays
Week ten (May 29, 2005)
May events roundup
It's about time to give an update from the party front here at the Expo. When I talk about "party" it means basically any event where there's drinks, people and (preferebly) music, of which there are far and few in between. However, this month there were quite a few events of note's worth of which I didn't spare myself to attend and take a few pictures.
· French party (April 27th)
Well technically this was not in May but I need to count it in for continuity's sake. The French threw a staff party in their pavilion (which is adjacent to ours), and put out a food buffet and also sponsored a number of champagne bottles. The German side threw in a couple of kegs of Kölsch (probably left over from the German National Day, I wonder how that's possible?). As you can expect, these resources were gone really quick. The place was packed in minutes, and there were even queues to get inside the pavilion. The funky Hip Hop music got the party rocking very soon, but drifted into unmotivated Eurotechno later. Hello DJ what happened to French House?
It was quite a funny surprise when I was approached by a guy I didn't know: "So you are Mr Rauben Weiss eh?" Turned out he was from the Croatian pavilion and not happy about what I wrote about their party. He hadn't actually read the article himself, but was going like "You wrote some pretty bad stuff about our party!" The other Croatians wouldn't even talk to me, just throwing the occasional warning glance toward me. The same happened at the Andean party (see below) a few weeks later. Apparently, Croatia was still pissed of about the matter, quote: "We were the only party that had free drinks, you should have written about that!" So there goes my relationship with the Croatian staff.
· Singapore party (May 1st)
After the Singapore preview party, we were pretty excited about what they would come up with next. The location used as the main party room was the rain forest room, which during the day simulates a tropical rain forest during the monsoon (umbrellas are provided). When we arrived the place was already packed, so we decided to get our beer at the neighbouring Australian Sand Bar. The Singaporeans didn't spare the effort to provide the guests with food (devoured in a matter of minutes, as always) and a fun evening program. First there was a dance show by three girls, which were then replaced by three ladyboys in flamboyant outfits. I guess they have come to the Expo as minority group representatives, just as the New Zealand pavilion has brought some Maori representatives with them.
· Canadian TV broadcast (May 5th)
By accident I learned about a live television broadcast at the Canadian pavilion, so I decided to go over to the Global Common 2 and take a few pictures. Sure thing they had the robots and the Segway and the so-called Teku-jin, who wear computer screens over their heads and take webcam shots of the queuing visitors of the Canadian pavilion. We actually had a few camera teams at the German pavilion (even one from Spiegel TV), however, unfortunately we weren't told the air date so we couldn't announce it to the folks back home.
· Italian party (May 11th)
I didn't quite learn about the reason for this party, but it took place in the Italian café/restaurant and featured heaps of Italian food, wine and ice cream. So, as can be expected, people were flocking to the food buffet and the bar to grab as many goods as possible, so it didn't take too long for the noodles and the wine to run out. After that (at around 10 or 10.30 pm) people were gone as quickly as they had come, carrying away the bounty of their raid. We were quite surprised that were no bite marks in the chocolate car when we left. Near 11 o'clock it also seemed as if our Italian hosts wanted everyone to be gone quickly, because they started singing Italian songs sotto voce, accompanied by piano forte and mega phono.
· Andean Amazon pavilion party (May 13th)
Since I had a short shift on that day, I visited the Andean-Amazonian pavilion in the afternoon to take some pictures. Only later I learned that the pavilion had just opened on that day and was giving an opening party in the evening. I couldn't quite figure out what took them so long to prepare - the pavilion features some waterfalls outside, and the normal exhibits and handicrafts stores inside, but nothing really spectacular to justify eight weeks of delay. However, I don't complain if there is an occassion to hold a party. The party was OK. The thing is just that the atmosphere suffers under too much neon lights. Most people didn't seem to mind though and were shaking their asses to Latin dance music on two dance floors.
· Soccer tournament (May 15th)
The Morocco pavilion in cooperation with the Croatians organized an official soccer tournament which was sponsored by the Yomiuri newspaper. According to the victorious Croatian's web site, the final between Croatia and Belgium was covered by four television networks (including national networks CBC and NHK), and the Yomiuri Daily made it a first page headline the next day.
The location where the tournament was held was a outdoor futsal place in walking distance from the Expo site. Because of everybody's working times, the tournament was held in between 9 pm (after work) and 11 pm (when the last train leaves). All in all, 24 teams were registered for the tournament, so to allow for the preliminaries to be held on two days each game was only 10 minutes long. The setup was not just a few guys kicking around, but a professional organisation with a proper playing schedule, referees from a differing country than the one playing etc. Regarding the teams you need to take into account that some pavilions have brought almost no local staff to Japan, so some great football nations (such as France) didn't appear in the contest at all.
When we arrived there on the evening of the preliminary games, the stands were already filled with frantic fans cheering their teams. The patchwork German team had scored a draw against Mexico in the first game and was waiting for the outcome of the ongoing game between Mexico and Romania. Unfortunately, this game had to be stopped due to a bad foot injury of one of the Romanian players (who turned out to be the driver of the Romanian staff). He was consecutively taken to the hospital - no early shift for him the next day. We just wondered how they got him to the hospital, him being the driver and all. So Germany had a walkover and had to battle Mexico again in order to decide who would be group leader and move on to the quarter finals.
The German team was short one player, so in a spontanous decision one player from the American team was recruited. Everybody was already pretty excited by the prospect of the finals so our lended player was properly integrated into the team at once ("say 'Ich'! Okay, you can pass as a German!"). The hopes were shattered all too soon, though, when in the first few seconds of the game the Mexicans scored a goal. The Germans, even though trying hard to get towards the enemy's goal and score a draw, never recovered from this blow and were thus defeated 1:0. Hey, that's not what we were planning towards World Cup 2006, guys!
· Belgium party (May 17th)
The Belgians, a large group here at the Expo and never too tired to party, organized the next party. We were quite scared when we heard that they would only use the cafeteria (which during the day has the famous Belgian waffles people line up for hours), but it wasn't any more crowded than in the Linimo and enough breathing space for everbody to actually lead some conversations. When we arrived, the New Orleans Train jazz band (which visited the Expo for one week or so) was already in full swing and so was the dancefloor. The live band provided a really fun atmosphere for all the staff in dire need of shaking their limbs after another hard day's work.
· Swiss party (May 20th)
The Swiss pavilion invited to a party "on the mountain top". Their pavilion ist mostly taken up by a "mountain" made out of wood with printed-on rock surface. You can climb up a short way towards the "top" (which is elevated like 10 metres from the ground) and behold a "mountaintop vista" there. The party took place mainly downstairs, where cheap beer and funky music got the party started soon enough. This time I was lucky enough to go home with everybody in the boss's car, so we didn't leave at 11 pm as usual (to catch the train) but were able to stay until midnight. That's my party life here, folks.
· Second French party (May 24th)
The day of the second French party marked the 61th day of the Expo, so now exactly one third of our time here has already passed. The French staff made a really great job in organizing the party. This time, next to the spacious pavilion area an outdoor food and drink area at the backside of the French-German building was set up. To allow for the preparation, the French pavilion of course closed at 8 p.m., but so did the German one - so I was the lucky guy who had to work less than usual.
After the doors opened, people rushed to the food area to grab some of the delicious bread and cake specialities prepared by the French cook. You need to imagine that most of the Japanese staff never had (and maybe never will have) the opportunity to sample authentic French food, moreover from a top-level three-star restaurant.
Come to think of it, the number of Japanese at the staff parties has risen dramatically compared to the first few pavilion parties. It seems that word has gotten round, and once you know what's good you don't want to miss it, I guess. I also overheard some Japanese staff guys talking like "Wow, so this is what it's like to go to a foreigner's party". None of the Japanese pavilions has as of yet even hinted towards preparing some kind of party or event.
Meanwhile, the beer corner had trouble to find customers for the large amounts of free beer. The German restaurant had once again sponsored 50 litres of German Kölsch beer, while the French side offered 300 litres of Kirin beer, which lasted late into the night. The German staff which helped pulling beer started numerous shouting attacks along the lines of "BEER! THIS IS BEER! COME GET GERMAN BEER" but to no avail. Well that is not to say that there was no beer demand, however it only started after the food buffet was raided and thouroughly raped.
Due to the ongoing hedonistic feast outside, the pavilion space itself was rather unpopular during the first hour. After the meal people wanted to dance, so the dancefloor started filling soon enough and the room was shaking their collective booty.
This party must be regarded a major success, I'd even go as far as to say it was the best so far and I'm not standing alone with that opinion. The next party has already been announced for June 21st, so we can be pretty excited about what's to come next time.
So that were the May events. I hope you appreciate my selfless sacrifice of sleeping time and the alcoholic torment I put unto my body just to offer you up-to-date infomation about the Expo staff parties.
· Next week: Kindergarten Japan