This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.
As the coronavirus keeps people in China perpetually indoors, everything fun seems to happen in the clouds — the online cloud, that is. For Chinese ravers who can no longer go to clubs and party, ‘cloud’ events are the next best option. Some might even say cloud parties rock harder than those IRL.
On January 31, the inaugural “Bedroom Online Cloud Music Festival” took place on Bilibili, a Chinese video-sharing website similar to YouTube. The online rave event was organised by concert ticketing agency Music Festival RSS.
It was such a success that it happened again. And again. Other music platforms followed suit with cloud concerts of their own, featuring different sets of performing artists each time.
While online events like these have been around for a while, they’re especially popular now that many people in China are stuck at home due to the coronavirus epidemic.
During the cloud concerts, edited versions of the bands’ past performances were screened for viewers. While it wasn’t actually live, the appeal comes from the knowledge that people were watching the concerts together, sharing their thoughts through comments in real time. No playbacks were available so that means if you missed it, you missed it.
Popular nightclubs also joined the trend with cloud clubbing, live streaming DJ performances on video sharing apps like Kuaishou and TikTok. The turnout was insane. Within the first 30 minutes of live streaming on February 10, the nightclub SIR TEEN from Beijing attracted over 100,000 online viewers, and gained a total viewership of 2.3 million over the entire session, The Paper reported.
Cloud clubbing is also lucrative as hell. On February 9, a few hours of live streaming saw well-known nightclub OneThird, which has branches in Beijing and Hangzhou, receive almost 20 million TikTok Coins from viewers, which equates to over 1 million RMB ($143,000).
Refusing to be left out, e-commerce players Taobao and Alibaba collaborated with music companies to organise a “no meeting concert,” where popular singers live streamed their jam sessions. The event held on Valentine’s Day attracted 4 million online viewers and raised 570,000 RMB ($81,500) for medical personnel battling the coronavirus at the frontline.
Amidst cloud raves that have mushroomed all over the Chinese internet emerges the bewildering phenomenon of “cloud sleeping.” One live streamer who goes by the moniker SheiJiaDeYuanSan had over 18 million people watching him in a 12-hour-long slumber. Why the viral demand for a regular guy taking a ridiculously long nap? There are no answers, at least not yet.
He too is confounded by his overnight fame. The viral sensation told ChinaZ.com that, despite attracting sudden popularity and revenue from cloud sleeping, he’s had enough of it. People were threatening to unfollow him if he did not go to sleep, despite it being only 5 p.m. in the afternoon.
With millions of people turning to the internet for entertainment and alternative arrangements to complete their tasks amidst nationwide quarantine efforts, the Chinese internet is cracking under pressure. Internet servers of various kinds — video sharing sites, e-learning websites, video conferencing apps, and online games — have all crashed in one form or another over the past month. It’s clearly no small feat catering to the demand of the world’s largest internet population.
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