Subway commuters in Hangzhou were treated to a little more than the usual good book or casual busker last Tuesday, as 10 young men boarded the train and proceeded to relinquish their trousers in a spectacle Magic Mike would’ve been proud of.
The act was most likely inspired by the annual “Global No Pants Subway Ride,” which saw its 16th anniversary last Sunday. The phenomenon, started in 2002 by comedy collective Improv Everywhere, serves as an “international celebration of silliness,” encouraging participants to add a bit of humour and frivolity to otherwise uneventful commutes.
The event has gained much popularity in cities like New York, London and Paris, but hasn’t received the same amount of recognition in China. Thus far, such celebrations have taken place only in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
It was therefore a comical albeit scandalous surprise to find these bare-legged young men in all their nonchalant glory, unperturbed by the icy stares they were receiving.
Nevertheless, the authorities will stop you entering the station if caught. And try indeed, they did. As Wu Ting, the office manager of the Hangzhou Subway Group said, “If they had only their underpants on when they entered the station, they’d certainly be stopped. But then since they took off their trousers on the train, our hands were tied.”
Be that as it may, it makes for a refreshing change in an otherwise conservative society. While China is starting to open up on such traditionally ‘taboo’ subjects like sex, it still draws the line when it comes to law and order. Likewise, public indecency doesn’t go unnoticed.
Nonetheless, it all boils down to good-natured fun: Just a few boys having a cheeky laugh. So why the frowns, Hangzhou?
Let them eat cake, we say!