Turning back the clock to September 1998. I was visiting my British boyfriend (let’s call him Mark), who had moved to Hong Kong for work from Taipei.
One night Mark came home from work and he told me he had bought tickets for us to see La Bohème the very next night at the Hong Kong Culture Centre. For someone like me who had never been to an opera, I was excited and at the same time, I didn’t know what to expect.
Soon the next day came. ‘Would the beige bodycon dress I packed for Hong Kong be good enough?’ I doubted it, and I had no other cocktail dress with me let alone a formal gown. So I took a trip to Pacific Place in Hong Kong island to see if I could find something amazing but in a reasonable price range.
After a hard search for the whole afternoon, I gave up. I couldn’t find anything I loved at an affordable price tag.
My Plan B, which was to go home and get changed into my beige dress, wouldn’t work by this point in time, because Mark lived near the fisherman’s village in Sai Kung District, New Territories, which means I had run out of travel time.
Being left without any other choice, I met Mark in my day outfit, which was this ensemble that you see in the photo. Don’t get me wrong, I love this look, but it was not the right choice for the opera.
Mark was lovely to me during my first opera experience. He explained everything that was happening on the stage to me. However, my mind was miles away… I was embarrassed with what I wore for the occasion. I wanted to dress up not dress down!
During the interval breaks between acts, we went to get refreshments. There, I spotted several young ladies in their fabulous evening gowns and I saw them looking back at me. I felt their judgement and I felt terrible!
I told Mark that I didn’t enjoy La Bohème. Clearly, I was so caught up worrying about what I wore that I missed out on what was happening that evening.
‘I guess that I’m not an opera fan!’ I said, without realizing my ‘dress down situation’ might have had some degree of negative impact on my La Bohème experience.
From 1998 to 2016 is a long time, but I still have my La Bohème ticket and the theatre program.., obviously, it was a special night out for me.
Would it make a big difference if I had worn a gorgeous gown then? Maybe; maybe not, who knows?!
From my night out at La Bohème, I’ve learnt at least two lessons: Always pack a glamorous outfit with you when going away – an occasion might come without any notice. And, if all else fails, don’t let a dress (or lack of the right one) stand between you and a great night out – it’s not worth it!
Photography by: Road Wang