No tattoos at the 2018 Strawberry Music Festival in Hangzhou

Society & Culture

In January, we reported on China’s ban on hip-hop artists with tattoos appearing on television. The ban now seems to extend to live music performances: The Strawberry Music Festival in Hangzhou, scheduled for April, reportedly asked performers to cover their tattoos with stickers, head scarves, or bandages.

In a screenshot taken from a WeChat group chat, a person who seems to work for the festival announced a “recent order” that prohibits artists from showing any tattoos while performing onstage, adding that musicians can wear long sleeves to avoid causing trouble.

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“But for those artists who have tattoos on their hands or necks, which are difficult to conceal, their managers should brainstorm for some other methods. In a word, it’s fine as long as tattoos can’t be seen,” the person wrote. “Thanks for your cooperation. My suggestion is to use stickers, head scarves, or bandages.”

The person ended the announcement with a complaint: “Does China still have a place for rock music? It’s all going to be the same song eventually…”

Internet users responded angrily after the screenshot was widely shared on Chinese social media.

“This is what stage costumes will look like for rock bands that support the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Li Yuewei 李乐为, a prominent music photographer in China, wrote on Weibo, attaching some photos of musicians with most parts of their bodies covered in cloth, veils, and scarves.

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“It seems that this year’s Midi Music Festival is going to be a massive mummy exhibit,” another Weibo user wrote.

Earlier this week, Forbes reported that the ban’s influence has reached the sports world in China. In light of a “no visible ink” order reportedly released by the Chinese Football Association to teams in China’s three professional leagues, some inked players from the Chinese men’s national team took to the field in long sleeves in a match against Wales last week. Zhang Linpeng 张琳芃, a central defender, who has tattoos stretching from his neck to his hands, withdrew from the match at the last minute.