36 people were killed on the Bund as 2014 became 2015, New Year’s Eve festivities in Shanghai have been rather subdued.ver since
Which is why we were rather surprised to see videos circulating around on Twitter of an apparent NYE light show spectacular on the Bund featuring nearly 2,000 drones. Those drones “took over the night sky” forming various shapes and patterns including a “running man” and a countdown clock right beside the Oriental Pearl Tower.
Video of the show has been shared by Chinese media outlets as well as international ones, including even the New York Times, impressing people around the globe with the innovative replacement to air pollution-causing fireworks.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 31, 2019
However, there’s just one problem. People who were on the Bund on the night of New Year’s Eve say they didn’t see anything in the night sky. No drones. No nothing.
This blows my mind because it’s 100% Chinese fake news. We stood outside last night for a show that never happened lol
— Patrick Cox (@PatrickCoxII) January 1, 2020
I was in the Bund on New Years Eve right in that time and nothing happened. All the drones display is fake.
— Abraham Pérez🇪🇸 (@AbrahamPrez25) January 1, 2020
A Reddit thread has been opened on the Shanghai subforum discussing this mysterious issue. One commenter points to a YouTube video that purportedly captured the New Year’s Eve festivities on the Bund.
In the video, a large crowd gathers on the Bund to watch with their cell phone cameras at ready as the clock strikes midnight. Observers get a bit excited as the lights go out in the Pudong skyscrapers… but are disappointed when those lights simply go back on a few seconds later with nothing actually happening.
You can watch the video below. The countdown starts at around 02:50:
When asked about the purported “drone show,” the person who shot the video responds: “No drones last night. Shame as it would have been cool to see. Not sure where the video came from but it appears to be the only video showing drones and has been reposted many times.”
On Weibo, video of the drones flying over the Huangpu River have caused similar confused comments. “Did I go to the wrong place? I was on the Bund!” writes one netizen. “There was really no celebration. This year’s NYE was cold and cheerless,” writes another.
Another video shows a large crowd of people counting down on the Bund with nothing happening as they reach zero. “New Year’s Eve is a Western holiday,” justifies one Weibo user.
However, a video posted onto Weibo does show the drone show over the Huangpu with the running man and 2020 spelled out. The video is dated December 29.
Our best, most charitable, explanation for this whole head-scratcher is that this was a practice run for a planned New Year’s Eve show that didn’t end up happening for some reason. Packaged footage of the show was always going to be from this practice run, in case something should go wrong on the big night.
And not even the show failing to take place ended up changing these plans.