Picking the 10 best entertainment and cultural events of 2004 was a daunting task in a year packed with so many awesome things to go see and do. But it's an enviable task. Here's our list of the year's most memorable in reverse chronological order.
"The illest hip-hop show in Taipei, ever, hands down." The Vinyl Word isn't partial to pronouncements (cough), but we gotta call 'em like we hear 'em. Jeff had the onus of living up to the pre-show hype. Taipei has the stench of an Asian backwater for some world-class DJs. They parachute into town between gigs in Tokyo and Bangkok then phone-in their set. A world-class bummer. Did he live up to the hype? "Hell yeah!" was our answer then and now. We still have that Michael Jackson track in our heads. Jeff packed the room and kept the crowd bumpin' and grindin'. Let's hope he finds his way back in 2005.
2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship
Although Taiwan didn't fare terribly well in this year's Futsal World Championship, we in Taipei got to enjoy two weeks of world-class sport as it was the first year the tournament was held in Taiwan.
Pity it may likely be the last. Partisan politics played defense and prevented the nation from scoring points as a good host to the games -- something to do with the central government not wanting appear to give enthusiastic support to a tourney held in Taipei, lest it give an inadvertent boost to the opposition party's Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (
Spain took home the silverware, but Taiwan fans were at least thrilled to watch their team score its first two goals in international Futsal play.
Ritual of the Short Black People
The Saisiyat tribe -- which is said to have killed off the last of the black pygmies that were possibly the earliest settlers of Taiwan -- has held the Ritual of the Short Black People for up to 400 years, ever since their extermination is believed to have happened.
The ritual is held every two years by the Saisiyat tribe in Nanchuang, Miaoli County and Wufeng in Hsinchu County, with a special event every 10 years. Basically, tribe members gather in the mountains of Miaoli, or at an amphitheater in Wufeng and repeat rituals connected with the god of the Short Black People, that have been handed down for generations. There is a lot of drinking of rice wine, dancing in circles and socializing. This goes on for a whole weekend and is one of the most colorful and lively events that happens in Taiwan.
Experimental Theater Festival at CKS
Every year the National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center showcases the works of four local theater groups in a "New Ideas Series" at the experimental theater. Motivation for the series is to expand its audience among the general public and four companies are selected among numerous applicants by a panel at the CKS Cultural Center. Each of the shows offered a different stage design, original script and professional acting. Taipei has numerous independent theater groups with performances every weekend making it difficult to decide what to see and what to avoid. Having attended three of the four productions, including Honan Opera Troupe, Assignment Theatre and Riverbed Theatre, it is fair to say that any of the festival winners would be a good pick.
Wu Bai heals the people
When the hometown rock hero goes on a two-year hiatus, you know his next concert is going to be a doozy. And so it was with Wu Bai's September tour of Taiwan: just what the doctor ordered.