Gloves to muffle stadium applause
By BRENDAN DELFINO
THOUSANDS of fans at a Canto-pop concert at the Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday will be asked to applaud wearing white gloves - or not at all.
Complaints from stadium neighbours about noise have reduced organisers to issuing gloves to people attending the government-sponsored Health For You Rally.
Residents say RTHK's plan to keep the volume of music and announcements below the legal 70-decibel limit is not enough, because much of the noise is generated by the crowd.
Sources within the organising committee - which includes the Urban Council, RTHK, the Health and Welfare Branch and stadium manager Wembley - said the idea to muffle clapping with gloves was a last-ditch effort.
They said although use of the gloves would not be a mandatory condition of entry, MCs and presenters would be encouraging the 20,000-strong crowd to contain their screams and yells and instead to wave the gloves in the air to show appreciation for performers.
A music industry source laughed off the idea, saying the noise generated by a gloved audience would sound like 'a squadron of ducks taking off from the marshes'.
A spokesman for the Health and Welfare Branch, which is providing 17,500 pairs of gloves, said although the tactics would help curb crowd noise, the principal idea behind the gloves' use was the visual effect.
'The TV station covering the event requested that a strong visual impact be made from the crowd's upper bodies,' the spokesman said.
The committee decided that gloves, which are used during tai chi exercises, could provide the desired effect.
The spokesman would not reveal the cost, but indicated the gloves were of cheap quality and 'probably cost around $2 a pair'.
Bitter Broadwood Road resident, Mak Yau-kay, was worried Sunday's event would contradict the health and fitness theme, saying excessive noise would be detrimental to the health of residents.
'If the concert is at all uncomfortable to residents, even if sound is kept below the legal limit of 70 decibels, it is contradicting the actual idea of the show,' he said.
'But crowd noise is of most concern as it will be very difficult to control. When they see Leon Lai-ming or whatever idol come out, they just go 'arrgghh!',' he said.
The move to discourage screams and muffle clapping is one of the measures being taken by organisers.
RTHK will be including in its sound equipment a sound compressor limiter which will electronically keep the stadium's speaker volumes at a pre-set level.
The committee has organised for students from the Hong Kong Polytechnic to monitor sound levels at various locations outside the arena, informing the control centre if levels get too high.
And rock band Beyond were invited to participate only on condition they played their songs acoustically.
Spokesman for the band's management, Howard Lee Kar-kit, said the band members were disappointed by not being able to play in their usual format.
'The band has always wanted to play a concert at the stadium but now they realise it will never happen,' he said.