Apr 18th, 2014
This is Liva. She's originally from Latvia and has been doing the arts and design rounds in Shanghai for the past four years. Right now she's the Visual Director of indie design and events agency Kick The Gong Around, the same guys who put on vintage-themed parties like the Bootleggers' Ball, the NYC Vaudeville Spectacular and the Valentine's Day Broken Hearts Club.
My name is Liva. I can’t really swim, I hate plastic, I can’t tell left from right, I am afraid of horses, I come from a country that needs to be repeated three times before anyone gets it, my boyfriend’s a ginger, my mum thinks I am the most talented person on the planet, I don’t mind dogs, my guilty pleasure is McDonald’s in bed at 2AM and I am not actually a natural blond.
In the city of uneven rhythms of happy hours and happy endings, smells of French showers and Turkish toilets, sounds of KTV and Champagne Brunch cin-cin’s, you are privileged to do what you love. I consider myself lucky—I am surrounded by people who are creators, doers and go-getters. I work with my best friend, amazing graphic designer and creative brain Cruzmaria. We are contributors at Kick The Gong Around. With Kick, we create spaces for events that people enter and are teleported to times before—retro, vintage, speakeasy, you name it. We immerse our guests in different realities and tell them: “come dressed and leave late”.
On Friday morning I’ll rush to Cafelito to order the city’s best value for money—coffee and a cheese and ham toastie, to go. The owner, a good friend and probably the kindest person on the planet, Iker, will give me a big hug and wish me luck. And, God, luck I will need for this weekend, as we are putting up one of our more ambitious events—the Vintage Carousel Fest—a Grand Bazaar at the Pearl Theatre. I strongly stand by the “Devil’s in the detail” mantra and always want to add that tailored quality to any event that we do.
I need to pop in to our sophisticated sellers’ shops to make sure we are all set and ready for the weekends’ festival. I’ll start with Lolo Love Vintage wonderland, and then rush to Julia’s bijoux and treasure drawer Annata Vintage, after that will meet charming Alexandra who runs Select 18 and will finish my morning marathon with Lian’s—she really has an eye for elegance and class. These four ladies have created and sourced exceptional collections of vintage clothing and accessories and we’re extremely lucky to have them in Shanghai and the Vintage Carousel Fest. After that, I will pop into my friend Marie’s studio. She creates gorgeous vintage-inspired dresses for her own brand, From Audrey With Love. These ladies inspire and humble me and I am so happy that Kick The Gong Around has the privilege of cooperating with them.
For lunch I will meet my boyfriend at Le Café des Stagiaires on Yongkang, we go there to see if the big boss Ben has outgrown my boyfriend’s beard and also for baked Camembert, which I can’t finish but valiantly attempt to do so twice a week. After lunch, Kick The Gong Around’s brilliant team will head to the Pearl Theatre to decorate the space for the Carousel Festival—flag garlands, colorful parrots, tassel chandeliers, ribbons, horses, fairy lights. Damn, it’s good to work with talented locals with taste, it makes Taobao a breeze to navigate—Margaret, you are gold.
Saturday and Sunday will start early, as I need to be ready for all the sellers and guests to arrive. I will put my vintage dress on and greet them with open arms. Our co-worker Cindy has an uncanny ability to attract Chipsters (Chinese Hipsters), it’s so lovely to see that other world, as I’m often guilty of getting caught up in our laowai village shenanigans. Our seller’s line-up is super exciting. In addition to those mentioned, we have Creative Collective, Miss Lu, Hugo and Jiro, Zaishu, Soap Meet, Kath Katherina, Botánica, Space for Thoughts, Vintage Warriors, Pinyin Press, San Gines’ pop-up restaurant and more. Saturday and Sunday will be filled with good old-days-style of buying and selling, country fair games, fortune telling, henna tattoos, live sketching, arts and crafts with children, animal balloon making, folk music by The Horde, gypsy music by the Equinox, magic and circus acts.
When we finish at 8pm on Sunday, Kick The Gong Around will have the friendliest food sharing fest, in the history of food sharing at Haidilao.
I am really lucky to live in this town. When my friends and family ask me, when will I return, I ask them: “Has McDonald’s started delivering to your door at 2am in the morning? No? Then not this year, Mum.”