Hong Kong Protests: The Mall Singalongs

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Since a couple of weeks, and after the emergence of prohibitions of protests by the Hong Kong Police, the protesters have switched to another form of protests: flash mobs in malls, creating mall singalongs for their new “National Anthem”, “Glory to Hong Kong.

A mall as a place to live

Part of the reason for which malls are so popular in Asia and in Hong Kong is also because while you are there, you do not need to have aircon, and in a city where the least physical efforts garners you tons of sweat, a mall generally has everything you need.

People collect in APM before singing
People collect together before singing at APM

Contrary to those confrontations with the police which take place regularly, the crowd at APM was pretty mixed, with a number of protesters forming the core organization, but also a mixed crowd of all walks of life.

A cross-section of the crowd
A cross-section of the crowd.

This being a Friday evening, obviously, many office workers from the surroundings came to express their support for the protest movement. But also some retirees, belying the generational gap some people think affects HK.

Older retirees watch as APM prepares to sing
Retirees watch on as APM prepares to sing.

And it starts.

The first attempt at singing the national anthem started with a lone trumpeter giving the first note of the tune and the people joining in with great enthusiasm.

The first rendition of “Glory to Hong Kong”

I was upstairs to give an idea of the people present and the sonority of the place. After this first rendition, I went down to ground floor to get a better shot at the performers.

A full orchestra

True to form a flash mob starts in general with a lone player, joined by two, or more musicians, until a full orchestra is united. This happened also in APM.

The lyrics and partition of "Glory To Hong Kong"
A trumpeter stands in the mall with the partition of “Glory To Hong Kong” in front of him.

There was a girl in helmet and mask holding the partition for the musicians to play from it. And everybody joined into the mall singalong.

Helmet and masked girl holding partition
A girl in full protest gear, including helmet and mask, holds the partition for musicians.

And that was when a sweet detail was picked by Mitchy.

A saxophonist plays
A saxophonist plays while a girl in full gear looks on (pic MQF).

The anthem was played then for a second time.

Anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” sung in APM
Holding the partition
The full orchestra plays on while a man listens respectfully

Between each rendition of the anthem, the crowd yelled various slogans, the favourite of which was “Five demands, not one less”. You can see below people holding up their hands with five fingers out.

"Five demands, not one less"
“Five demands, not one less”, chants the crowd.

The Final

As time slipped towards 9.30 PM, people prepared for a last rendition of the anthem. This video was itself published by Newsflare agency, so I will link to one of the web site that published it.

Video of finale at APM

A protester with bullhorn stands as the National Anthem of HK resounds
A protester with bullhorn stands as the National Anthem of HK resounds

As the anthem ended, the musicians left the mall, and simultaneously, the crowd erupted into chants such as “five demands, not one less”.

Nation building at its best

I mentioned several times that what was happening in Hong Kong was the cementing of a form of national identity.

While this identity was cemented in the weeks of fighting against the government and the refusal of China to give any ground, the emergence of a national anthem that is as much loved as the Chinese one is despised, took everything to the next level.

Arts and culture have always been at the forefront of pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, but it is the first time that the movement gave birth to an element so clearly making part of a nation-building effort. The mall singalongs further help to keep this anthem at the heart of the population.

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