Beats and spirit, American drummer enlivens Shanghai neighbors from balcony

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Although Charles Foldesh, a 37-year-old American drummer, had to temporarily stop his performance due to the COVID-19 resurgence in Shanghai, he has transformed his balcony into a stage, winning applause and cheers from his neighbors.

The megacity, with a population of 25 million, is currently under temporary closed-off management. Amid multiple rounds of citywide nucleic acid testing to stem the spread of infections, Shanghai has become a primary battleground against the Omicron variant.

Foldesh, who is also a drum teacher, has lived in Shanghai since 2007. During the ongoing closed-off management period, he is making good use of his talent and time playing drums while sitting on the balcony of his apartment in the city's Hongkou District.

Foldesh has become a viral sensation, as videos circulating on the internet showed him drumming to melodic rhythm amid enthusiastic cheers of his neighbors.

"That is cool. Hope the beats can drive everything bad away," commented a user on the popular short video sharing platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

"People who are interested in it can watch his live show after the epidemic," wrote another netizen.

Life under the epidemic has been frustrating for a lot of people although they have got food, water and other basic necessities, Foldesh said.

"The other day when I was out there, I noticed that all the neighbors were on the balcony, making a lot of noise, like 'Shanghai Jia You' (Shanghai, keep going). So I heard everybody was going on a little crazy, and I figured that it was the right time to set up the drums on the balcony and beat the drums," he added.

"The inspiration for playing drums on the balcony is really something I've wanted to do for a long time," Foldesh said, adding that he did not anticipate such an energetic reaction from the neighbors. "I thought they were going to yell me out to stop, but everybody was really enthusiastic about it, and it's kind of bringing up the spirit of the community."

Expressing his astonishment at how his video has garnered widespread attention on social media, Foldesh said a lot of his friends and acquaintances outside of Shanghai sent him the video to confirm if that was him.

"I'm happy to give them some energy. But I guess it also lifts the spirit of people outside Shanghai, as well as the community. So I'm glad people liked it," he said.

The skilled drummer said he is optimistic about the situation in Shanghai and that his family has stocked up on supplies and stockpiled food. However, he has been concerned about his work, as he is unable to work or perform due to the current epidemic situation, leaving him without income.

"I've experienced the epidemic in 2020 when many clubs were closed for a while, and then they opened gradually. During that time, I took full advantage of the time to practice and settle," Foldesh said.

"China's response to the epidemic is very strong and swift, which allows people to return to normal life quickly. The real heroes in my eyes are the delivery people because they kept us safe at home during the epidemic," Foldesh said. 

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