As I walked around Changzhou, China, with my six American friends one night, we were greeted with the usual stares and shouts of “helloooooooooo!” Just to explore, we randomly decided to turn left down a street instead of going the usual way.
Above the clouds of cigarette smoke and the sounds of buzzing mopeds in every direction, we heard some rock music coming from an alley. We were desperate for anything American, and an electric guitar sounded a little bit like home. We found a Chinese boy band jamming out to some Chinese tunes. We decided to stop and listen, even though we couldn’t understand a word.
After the song, I turned around to walk away, ready to continue on to the line of shops down the street. There was a little pause between songs, some whispering, and then . . .
“SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, AND YOU’RE TO BLAME. DARLIN’, YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME.”
Oh my gosh, really? Bon Jovi? Here? In China? I screamed at the top of my lungs, and then I proceeded to sing every word. The band then rotated to other American songs like “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” “Sweet Child of Mine,” and other gems sung in broken English.
While our group of Americans screamed, danced, and jammed out, a crowd of Chinese people gathered, frozen and staring, not at the band, but at us.
Then the band openly waved, inviting us to come on stage and sing. Somehow I ended up on stage, screaming “Let It Be” at the top of my lungs. We miraculously got the crowd of 100 Chinese people to clap along, which was quite a victory. They also cheered really loudly after we finished, perhaps out of pity.
The band begged us to sing one more, so of course I suggested another Bon Jovi classic, “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
Unfortunately my friends knew only the chorus, so it was up to me to sing lead vocals. I knew that my mother (whose crush on Bon Jovi has grown throughout my life) would be immensely proud.
I felt like a rock star, even though we were really just foreigners.