Chinese dating game brings touch of drama to Hendricks Chapel

Based on Chinese dating show "Fei Cheng Wu Rao," female student choose or reject male bachelors in front of a full audience.

A group of 10 girls sit in the pews on the left side of Hendricks Chapel. They seem nervous, but excited. They chat and smile cautiously as the lower level of the chapel, nearly filled with Chinese students, murmurs excitedly in Mandarin. Some of the girls wear high heels and evening dresses, while others don casual tennis shoes and jeans.  

All 10 are looking for a boyfriend at "Fei Cheng Wu Rao," a Chinese game show modified for Syracuse University by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association.

“The worst part is coming away with nothing,” said entrepreneurship freshman Cici Huang, before taking the stage. “Just like play a game and just enjoy ourselves.”

Fei Cheng Wu Rao is an extremely popular TV program in China, said broadcast journalism junior Qian Wei Zhang. Fei Cheng Wu Rao translates to “Not Serious, Don’t Bother.” The Hendricks Chapel version was was a night of entertainment and merriment. The event was conducted entirely in Mandarin.

CSSA president Yuming Huang brought the event to SU because he said he wanted to gather the Chinese community and bring additional culture to campus. “I think it’s important to get them together because sometimes the Chinese students just don’t have the opportunity to get together,” he said.

The rules of the game follow:

  • When a male contestant takes the stage, the panel of 10 girls can ask him questions to feel him out.
  • Whenever a female decides she’s not interested, she pops a balloon in front of her. If all 10 women pop their balloons, the game ends and the man walks away with no one.
  • When the women are satisfied, the first of two videos is played. This is the man’s chance to tell the girls what he’s like in his own creative way.
  • After a second round of questioning, a second video plays. This time the video features friends of the contestant telling the bachelorettes—rather candidly—the man’s good and bad qualities.
  • After another round of questioning, the contestant finally gets his chance to ask a question to whomever he desires. Then, he reveals his “love at first sight” girl before making his decision.

In the chapel, under the shadow of John 8:32—“Ye shall know the truth”—the bachelorettes wasted no time getting to the heart of the matter, asking sharp questions to each of the six men who took the stage. What is your taste in women? Are you naturally slim or do you exercise to get that way?

“Is the girl from your last relationship still in your heart?” woman No. 1 asked the first male contestant.

“I haven’t seen her for a year,” he responded.

“So is that a yes or no?” she countered, drawing laughter and applause from the crowd.

The videos followed. Parodies and jokes lit up the projection screen as students reared their heads back in laughter.

The crowd was raucous. Some brought signs to cheer on their favorite guy or girl but most just showed the excitement by chirping at every interaction.

Some girls did not hesistate to pop their balloons. “I was expecting a more harmonious situation where everyone gets their share,” said the fifth contestant Bohan Chen, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, at intermission. “But two guys are already out and there’s three guys left.”

For example, the fourth contestant made a video specifically for one bachelorette on stage and then offered her a box with jewelry. Tension grew as the audience waited for the woman's response. She popped her balloon, sending the man off the stage alone.

At the end of the night, three of the six contestants walked away with a new girlfriend. Chen was serious about finding a girl, he said, and happy everyone was taking the show seriously. He didn’t end up getting his first choice, but he was thrilled, he said, to step down from the stage, hand-in-hand with a bachelorette, smiling broadly, but looking away shyly.

“To tell the truth, the girl that I was thinking about was not her, but there’s a very important issue in love where you cannot force people to like you, so I was like, ‘What the heck?’” Chen said. “I feel really excited. I’m just really happy. There’s just something glorious when you can hold a girl’s hand and just walk down the steps. It’s crazy.”

In a Chapel?

OK, it does sound like a lot of fun was had by all, and I'm a sometimes fan of the afforementioned show in China myself.

But in a chapel? Is nothing sacred anymore? Perhaps I'm getting old or something... dating is dating, people marry in a chapel sure, but it's not quite the same is it?

It's either an appropriate place to hold this event, or a totally inappropriate place to hold this event. I believe it was the latter.

How would native Chinese feel if I held a live remake of American Idol in a Daoist temple? It's more or less the same kind of thing in my view.  

Well written piece though Lorne... but again, I have to say it... in a chapel?

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