Flower power

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Up to 50,000 music and fashion fans flocked to Strawberry Music and Midi Music festivals over the May 1 holiday.

Rapturous nighttime crowds at the Tongzhou Canal Park, venue of the 'modern and trendy' Strawberry Music Festival.

Rapturous nighttime crowds at the Tongzhou Canal Park, venue of the "modern and trendy" Strawberry Music Festival. [China Daily]

The summer music festival season got into full swing over the May Day holiday with the Beijing-based Midi Music Festival and Strawberry Music Festival showcasing the city's fashionable youngsters.

"I fulfilled a childhood ambition by being a cowgirl for the day," said Fu Xingmo, a 19-year-old university student from Beijing, who attended the Strawberry Music Festival dressed in mini jean shorts, a white blouse, black leather boots and a cowboy hat. She had sequins covering half her face in the shape of a heart.

"I loved my outfit and makeup so much that I didn't want to remove it even on my way home," Fu said. "Lots of people tried their best to impress the crowds, even if they weren't quite sure what their outfits were. It was really funny."

More than 10 of her classmates attended the festival and everyone had his or her style, according to the freshman.

Strawberry Music Festival organizers said between 30,000 and 50,000 people attended the festivals and sizzling hot weather encouraged them to try out a savvy combination of costumes, which filled out the Haidian and Tongzhou Canal parks.

Playsuits, denim shorts, high heels, and colorful summer dresses were favored by young girls; while T-shirts, leather jackets, and sneakers were popular among young men.

Guan Ying, a fashion editor for Elle magazine, was impressed with the fashion statements.

"I've seen a lot of cartoon figures, such as Xi Yang Yang (a popular cartoon sheep) and Superman, as well as people dressing up like Elvis Presley and even Lady Gaga," Guan said. "It's really added so much fun to the festival."

Rapturous nighttime crowds at the Tongzhou Canal Park, venue of the "modern and trendy" Strawberry Music Festival. [China Daily]

"The fans' costumes were often like the stars on stage. The festival goers definitely shared the spotlight with performing bands," said Guan, citing the examples of the Carsick Cars, Queen Sea Big Shark and Muma & Third Party, whose band members often wear eye-catching dresses on the stage.

What to wear to a music festival has become a big topic for discussion among the young.

"One of our friends never dresses up and we had to persuade him to buy brightly colored clothes. We bought him a gigantic banana-shaped cape when we went to the first Strawberry Music Festival last year," Fu said. "He was totally freaked out at the beginning but we had lots of fun throughout the whole day."

According to Liu Bo, a music reporter from Music Weekly newspaper, a generation gap is visible at festivals.

"The 20-somethings go to Strawberry Music Festival, which showcases itself as modern and trendy. They see it as a runway to show off, besides watching live performances," Liu said. "But the 30-somethings, or above, go to Midi Music Festival, because what they want is pure rock 'n' roll, the music itself."

Due to their different market segments, the two major outdoor music festivals are complementary rather than competitive, Liu said. Some of the biggest bands, such as Miserable Faith and Tang Dynasty, performed at both festivals on different days. "It's a healthy and balanced situation for original Chinese music to develop, especially Chinese rock music, which was once dead but was reborn during the past decade," Liu said.

People's passion for an outdoor music experience has never slowed down and there are more festivals popping up every year.

As Zhang Fan, the organizer of Midi Music Festival, said at the press conference weeks before the May Day holiday: "We want to give bands more space to show themselves and at least help them make ends meet." As for the fans, Zhang said: "The festival is an opportunity to find new friends and act like a star."

Shen Lihui, the founder of Modern Sky, one of the most successful indie music labels on the Chinese mainland, and the founder of Strawberry Music Festival made the same point.

"Like the name Modern Sky suggests, our music is stylish and full of personality. The concept also applies to those who come to our festival. I am happy to see them. They are beautiful and speak for themselves."

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