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Shanghai EDM Fans Look to Buy Groceries on Livestream for Ultra Miami

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On the eve of March 30, with half of Shanghai already in lockdown and the other half awaiting its fate, up to half a million Shanghai-based music fans found an unusual place to hunt for now-hard-to-acquire groceries: A livestream of an EDM festival in Miami.

Ultra Music Festival, also known as Ultra Miami, is an annual EDM festival boasting a prestigious line-up with the biggest names in the industry. After a two-year hiatus, the music event returned to its home in central Miami and offered a livestream to audiences worldwide from March 25 to 27.

On the other side of the globe, Shanghai is grappling with its biggest Covid outbreak since 2020. On March 27, officials announced phased lockdowns from March 28 to April 5. As you’ll see, residents have since engaged in online and offline battles to stock up on groceries.

Hoards of people emptying grocery aisles in a panic have been documented in countless videos on the Chinese web and even inspired a viral rap song.

The phenomenon has also made its way to the world of online clubbing. It started when TudiMusic replayed a livestream of the Ultra Miami event via WeChat video.

The online broadcast started at 7:30 PM and saw fewer than 10,000 viewers in the first three hours. It was only past midnight that the real spectacle unfolded.

As Shanghai-based users began to flock in, the total number of viewers skyrocketed to almost 600,000, which encouraged the host to continue the livestream through the wee hours of the morning until 7am.

When viewership spiked, the trending topic in the chatroom shifted from Hardwell’s highly-anticipated return to a much more pragmatic one: That of groceries.

shanghai lockdown

Side-by-side screengrabs of the livestream, with vegetable emojis flooding the comments section. Image via Weibo

As the DJs attempted to get the audience hyped up by shouting, “Put your hands up! Are you ready?” viewers responded by typing, “Buy some vegetables! Are you ready?”

Vegetable- and fruit-shaped emojis soon flooded the comments section. Many even asked, “Where can I buy vegetables?” and “Who is selling vegetables here?”

Many users came together, offering each other support and virtually wishing for the city’s speedy recovery. Others cracked grocery-themed jokes inspired by the EDM tracks’ lyrics:

“I feel so high; I need you veggie; I come alive when I see you veggie.”

While many viewers were on the young side, the livestream was re-shared by WeChat users of all ages, who proudly rejoiced over Shanghai’s resolve and high spirits despite the ongoing Covid lockdown.

With more and more brick-and-mortar stores shuttered and delivery platforms overloaded with orders, livestreaming on platforms such as Douyin (China’s version of TikTok) has proven to be a valuable option for many retailers and buyers.

The humorous event undoubtedly highlights Shanghai’s ability to find innovative ways to stay entertained amidst challenging times.

Cover photo designed by Zhuohan Shao

Beatrice Tamagno
Beatrice is a graduate student in sociology at Fudan University in Shanghai. Her writings have appeared on SupChina and ChinaNauts, an online magazine she co-founded with fellow researchers from Fudan. When she is not researching gender in contemporary China, you will find her playing mahjong or binging Chinese TV shows.
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