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Red Bull held their first Flugtag event in Hong Kong in West Kowloon on Sunday, October 10th, 2010. Despite bad weather, well over 10,000 people attended – a stunning amount given that this is the very first event of this kind in the city.
Who knew that watching people jump off a six-meter ramp and crash into the harbor is cross-cultural entertainment? 😉 But there’s more to the event than the amazing faceplants.
Flugtag is part home-town parade, part Halloween, and part Jackass-the-movie, rolled into one.
Contestants come up with a theme for their team, create what is essentially a parade float (well, it’s supposed to fly, but that often isn’t the case!,) and develop a short skit to perform, before launching their craft into a large body of water. There’s one pilot, but frequently the teammates jump into the water as well.
The creativity involved in building the flying machines, each with a particular theme is remarkable. Hong Kong showed a creative side that rarely yields such good results. Often, Flugtag participants localize their entries after notable things about their city or country. Hong Kong was no exception, fashioning flying machines with local references including roast pork, dim sum, mahjong, the tram, and Bruce Lee. The entries were outstanding! There was even a Star Wars Lego team!
Here’s how it worked: from the workshop, entries would line up according to their departure number. Several teams would be led out onto a staging ground where they cavorted in costume for the crowd, before reaching the ramp. Once they got to the launch pad, they played their theme song and performed a short skit. After a brief final safety check, they had a short countdown before being pushed into the harbor.
Once the plane flew (most did little more than flop downwards, to the crowd’s steady enjoyment!) a rescue team would quickly scoop up the pilot and begin clearing the path for the next team. The system worked well, though there were some pauses due to weather conditions.
Strong winds blowing in the opposite direction made it difficult to fly, and in some cases, difficult to even launch. Several of the entries flew apart at the end of the ramp, just before they were due to go off!
Much of the massive audience watched the proceedings on a huge screen with live feeds from several camera angles capturing the action.
Forty teams, each with zany humor and colorful costumes, created a fun atmosphere that made Red Bull’s first Flugtag in Hong Kong the most successful new event in a decade. The crowd was the most diverse I’ve ever seen at an event, truly reflecting the entire cross-section of Hong Kong society.
Red Bull’s Flugtag is a masterpiece in spectacle, with a wide appeal similar to a circus. Families with children perched up on their shoulders were just as common as teens and middle-aged couples. The lively, jovial atmosphere (and anticipation for the next crash,) kept everyone smiling. Hong Kong should be proud of their city and the massive turnout!
Thanks Red Bull for bringing your event to Hong Kong! See you next year in 2011?