Even after Xu Sun handed over the newly revised contract, Rong Yuheng still felt a bit dazed.
He wondered if Wen Zhecheng was out of character.
Was that something Wen Zhecheng would say?
Seeing Rong Yuheng’s bewildered expression, Wen Zhecheng reached out and tapped him.
“What are you still spacing out for?”
Only then did Rong Yuheng snap back to reality and quickly signed his name at the end of the contract.
Xu Sun took the contract and prepared to return to the company.
Before leaving, he reminded Rong Yuheng, “Do well in the elimination round and strive to debut.
Your talent is… very special.
If there are suitable resources, I’ll keep an eye out for you.”
Since Xu Sun couldn’t bring himself to say “you’re very talented,” Rong Yuheng didn’t force it and obediently thanked Xu Sun before bidding him farewell.
Once Rong Yuheng returned to the dormitory, his three roommates immediately surrounded him.
Pu Zaixi was chewing sunflower seeds in his mouth.
“You signed the contract? How is it? Is everything okay with the contract?”
Rong Yuheng moved back slightly to avoid the attack of sunflower seed shells.
“No problem, Fan Yu is good.”
Zou Yi patted his head with envy.
“That’s great! I was worried that you signed a slave contract and would be drained to the bone.”
Rong Yuheng’s head was jolted by the patting, resembling a sunflower from the game “Plants vs.
Zombies.” Zhou Shubai couldn’t bear to see him suffer and immediately raised his hand to stop Zou Yi.
“Don’t use your basketball strength to pat my egg-peeler.”
Zou Yi realized belatedly and stopped his hand.
“Oh, was it too hard?”
Rong Yuheng pursed his lips.
It feels like driving at 80 mph on a mountain road.”
After the first elimination round, they entered the next stage of program recording.
In order to break away from the old format and add excitement, the production team arranged a street performance episode.
The remaining 25 contestants were divided into five groups and performed in different street corners of the city.
Since there were no fixed audiences, the popularity couldn’t be faked, and the psychological pressure on the contestants was significant.
The dormitory rooms were shared by four people, with the contestants forming groups within the same dormitory and adding one additional member.
The dormitories of the members who left were disbanded and redistributed to other dormitories.
This created an awkward situation where the stronger members were sought after by various teams, while the slightly weaker ones were left with no one interested in them.
Rong Yuheng turned his head and saw the blond guy who had cried while hugging his roommate that day.
He stood on the side, looking around awkwardly, trying to find a team that would accept him.
“It seems like no one is choosing him,” Rong Yuheng tilted his chin towards Zou Yi and the others, signaling them to look over.
Pu Zaixi glanced and said, “You mean Shi Lu? Are you suggesting that he joins our team?”
Rong Yuheng replied, “He’s a good person.
If you guys don’t mind, let’s have him join our team.”
Perhaps influenced by his upbringing, Rong Yuheng never had a strong desire for victory.
He believed that being happy together was the most important, and only with a good team atmosphere could their performances be successful.
Zhou Shubai had a similar mindset.
He spoke in a friendly tone, “I don’t mind.
I’ll listen to the egg-peeler.”
Rong Yuheng thought to himself, “Egg-peeler… Have we become so used to saying that?”
Zou Yi didn’t have any objections either.
“Doesn’t matter to me.
I’m quite strong, so I can team up with anyone.”
Rong Yuheng noticed that Zou Yi could be shameless at times.
But he liked it.
Pu Zaixi gladly agreed, “I have no objections either.”
With the consent of his teammates, Rong Yuheng walked over to Shi Lu, who was standing to the side, and patted him.
“Do you want to join us?”
Shi Lu’s eyes lit up.
Shi Lu was almost moved to tears.
Only he knew how awkward he had felt just now.
He was the contestant who barely made it to the top 15 in the first elimination round and was on the verge of being eliminated.
Now, everyone was competing to invite the higher-ranking contestants to their teams, and he was the only one waiting to be picked last.
He never expected that a team would actively invite him.
Shi Lu made a whimpering sound, resembling an adopted little puppy with his yellow hair, and followed Rong Yuheng all the way back to the team.
“You are my new foster parents, wuwu…”
Rong Yuheng maintained a serious and rational demeanor.
“Father is fine, but mother, let’s not go there.
Playing two roles is a bit difficult for me.”
Shi Lu blinked in response.
Rong Yuheng led Shi Lu back to the team, and Zou Yi amiably put his arm around Shi Lu.
“Brother will look after you.”
Shi Lu nodded like a little chick pecking at grains.
Rong Yuheng glanced at Zou Yi with a sense of accomplishment.
As the newly appointed “father” of Shi Lu, he felt like he had gained an advantage over Zou Yi and couldn’t help but feel proud.
Just as he was feeling proud, Pu Zaixi’s head suddenly appeared in front of him, and his clear eyes were filled with curiosity.
“What are you thinking about with that smug expression on your face?”
Rong Yuheng thought, “Oops, how did I get caught again?”
The grouping was completed, and the next step was to allocate the performance locations.
Rong Yuheng went up to draw lots on behalf of their team and coincidentally encountered Shan Qi, who was also there to draw lots.
Shan Qi smiled at him and asked, “How did you come up with the idea to invite Shi Lu?”
Rong Yuheng replied, “I just happened to see him there, so I invited him.”
Shan Qi nodded and said, “Shi Lu has a good personality.
I was actually planning to invite him to our team too.” He sighed quietly, “But my teammate already invited Jia Ning.”
“It’s okay, everything is fine.”
After drawing lots, everyone returned to their teams and prepared to head to the performance locations.
The photographers carried their cameras and followed behind, capturing the entire process.
Rong Yuheng drew a location that was at a street corner in an emerging technology park, right next to Egret Lake Park.
The advantage was that the venue was spacious with no noise interference, which was suitable for the performance.
However, the downside was that there was relatively little foot traffic, with passersby being either office workers or retired elderly people out for a walk.
The five of them sat in a van, and Pu Zaixi had a troubled expression.
“The environment is good, but even if we perform well, it will be awkward without an audience.”
The cameraman couldn’t help but smile and aimed the camera at Pu Zaixi.
He then pretended to cry in front of the camera, “This is too difficult!”
Zou Yi comforted him, “Let’s see when we get there.
Maybe there will be many people coming to the park?”
Pu Zaixi leaned tiredly against Zou Yi, as if his soul was slowly rising from his body.
“I hope so.”
Rong Yuheng reached out and patted his belly, considerately pressing his soul back in.
“It’s okay, there won’t be any unsolvable challenges.
We can always find the cheats for the customs clearance”
After driving for about twenty minutes, the van stopped at the destination.
The performance area was in a pedestrian street.
There was an open space in front, and several tens of meters away was the entrance to the park.
It wouldn’t block the way, and there would be some pedestrian traffic.
A few elderly people who were strolling through the park passed by one after another.
When they saw the group, they curiously stuck their heads out for a look, glanced a couple of times, and then withdrew without much interest, continuing on their way.
Shi Lu was somewhat worried.
“This doesn’t seem good.
It feels like the elderly people aren’t interested in watching our performance.”
Zou Yi said, “Let’s try performing once first.
Shu Bai and Yuheng can sing, and the three of us will dance.”
“Okay, let’s give it a try.”
The sound system was set up at the back, and the cameraman took his position.
The five of them stood in the performance area, and some passersby actually stopped to watch.
The music started, and Zhou Shubai and Rong Yuheng began to sing.
Zou Yi and the other two danced beside them.
They put in a lot of effort into their performance, but most of the audience consisted of middle-aged and elderly people who, after watching for a while, found it uninteresting and gradually dispersed.
The crowd thinned out, and the atmosphere became awkward.
Zhou Shubai was the first to stop, and Zou Yi turned to look at him.
“Shubai, don’t stop.
At the very least, we can’t give up on ourselves.”
Zhou Shubai glanced at the dwindling audience and replied, “It’s not working like this.”
Zou Yi was about to say something when he saw Rong Yuheng also stop.
“Yuheng, why are you stopping too…?”
“Shubai is right, it’s not working like this,” Rong Yuheng said.
“Can we try a different song?”
As soon as the words left his mouth, the other three also stopped and turned to look at him.
Pu Zaixi said, “It’s not about the song or the dance.
It’s about the audience.
Changing the song won’t make a difference, Yuheng.”
Rong Yuheng lowered his gaze and pondered for a few seconds.
When he looked up again, his eyes were bright, as if they held a rising sun within.
Zou Yi’s eyelids twitched, and he suddenly had a foreboding feeling…
Sure enough, the next moment, he heard Rong Yuheng speak up,
“How about a square dance? You all know how to do it, right?”
The four of them, “…”
How could they know how to do it?!
Three minutes later.
At the empty street corner, the four boys stood still, their worries echoing each other.
But what awaited them next was inevitable.
In front of them stood a spirited Rong Yuheng.
He pulled up the oversized hem of his T-shirt and tied it around his waist, accentuating his slender waist, perky buttocks, and long legs.
He looked fresh and energetic.
As the music started playing again, a familiar melody resounded through the empty street corner:
“The vast horizon is my love!
At the foot of the rolling green hills, flowers are blooming!
What kind of rhythm is the most swinging and swaying~
What kind of singing voice is the most joyful and carefree!”
As the music played, Rong Yuheng seemed to be switched on.
With powerful and vigorous movements, his open hands sliced through the air like scythes.
His high-kicking legs exuded a strong sense of rhythm as he danced to the lively and playful music on the flat ground!
Rong Yuheng maintained his excellent habit of singing and dancing simultaneously.
While dancing, he sang loudly,
“The winding river descends from the sky~
Flowing into the sea of myriad colors!
The clattering folk songs are our expectations~
Singing and walking along the way is the most free and easy!”
After singing this line, he turned to his stunned four companions and said, “Hey, join me!”
Zou Yi felt a mix of embarrassment and amusement, but when he turned his head, he saw several aunties who had just left come back excitedly, surrounding them with interest.
Zou Yi immediately overcame his embarrassment and passionately waved along with Rong Yuheng.
Zou Yi had a more muscular physique and a background in street dancing, so his movements were more solid and powerful.
His square dance looked like an aerobics routine.
The two of them, with contrasting styles yet overflowing with enthusiasm, infected several aunties who were watching.
They exchanged glances and then joined in the dance.
The remaining three, Pu Zaixi and the others, saw that their performance was finally yielding results.
They closed their eyes fiercely and threw themselves into it—
Once they immersed themselves in the performance, they immediately entered a state of flow.
Even though it was just a square dance, they used all their skills and danced in a splendid and diverse manner, displaying a multitude of blossoming flowers!
As the familiar music echoed throughout the street corner, more and more elderly men and women were drawn to the unique aura of this particular group.
They didn’t care who the leader was; as long as they could joyfully dance along, that was all that mattered.
For a moment, the entire street corner felt like a community organizing a cultural performance!
Under the enthusiastic support of the elderly men and women, the performance ended perfectly, with an inexplicable sense of grandeur.
Rong Yuheng and Zou Yi even received two steamed buns from kind-hearted aunties, who said they must be hungry after dancing.
Shi Lu, the most shy among them, had a special affinity with the aunties and was even pulled into a group photo.
As the five of them sat in the returning vehicle, they were already exhausted and unable to speak.
The photographer chuckled, causing the camera to shake.
“You guys were definitely the liveliest group today.”
The five of them weakly replied, “Thank you, thank you…”
Assistant Xiao Wang was amazed.
“You guys are too dedicated.
You even let go of your idol baggage!”
Pu Zaixi replied, “We don’t even consider ourselves idols, so what image do we have to let go?”
The photographer smiled and said, “Not now, but it will happen in the future.”
He continued, “People who understand their target audience, know what the audience wants, and are willing to break their established image to perform to the best of their ability are the ones our program wants to select.”
As expected, Rong Yuheng’s group had the most surreal style, but they were also the most popular among the public.
Among the other groups, some were selected for locations in the city center with large crowds but noisy environments and limited space, while others were chosen near amusement parks with a younger audience but constant disruptions from children.
Every location given by the production team had its pros and cons, testing the contestants’ abilities to overcome disadvantages and seize opportunities.
After this episode aired, the ratings of “Ace Rising Star” broke historical records and reached a new high.
The new recording format and challenging performance requirements created fresh topics and heated discussions for the show.
On the night of the show’s broadcast, the hashtag #AceRisingStarSquareDance trended on social media.
Under the hashtag, there were various edited short videos.
Rong Yuheng’s soaring momentum, Zou Yi’s aerobics-like dance moves, and the expressions of Pu Zaixi, Zhou Shubai, and Shi Lu, who went from despair to obsession… all of them were edited and accompanied by subtitles—
Like when Rong Yuheng lifted his leg passionately, there were a few big characters next to it: “I’m taking off!”
Apart from a few videos used for memes, some people also noticed Rong Yuheng’s action of tying up his T-shirt.
Netizens went crazy:
“Oh my god, that waist! Damn, it’s so slim! I feel like I could wrap my arm around it!”
“Rong-er’s legs are really long and straight! We can’t tell when they’re covered by clothes, but now that they’re exposed, I can really see it!”
“Ah, I’m dead! As long as Rong-ge stays quiet and doesn’t make any movements, he’s exactly what I imagine my first love to be like!”
Rong Yuheng didn’t know of the evaluations and expectations of netizens.
He never indulged in online discussions about himself.
At this stage, most of the opinions expressed by netizens were one-sided and subjective, and whether they praised or criticized him, it was not enough to guide his actions.
As an emerging star, Rong Yuheng believed that he should not be swayed by public opinion but should strive to shine in the right direction.
However, the trending topic that Rong Yuheng missed happened to be displayed on Wen Zhongyun’s computer screen at this moment.
Since being driven by curiosity to watch an episode of “Ace Rising Star,” Wen Zhongyun had not missed a single episode.
After all, he was already retired and spends his days at home singing and listening to music.
Occasionally, he had time to catch a variety show.
At this moment, Wen Zhongyun was standing in front of the computer, browsing the hilarious videos under the hashtag #AceRisingStarSquareDance, while emitting an earth-shattering swan scream.
“Honk honk honk honk…!”
Wen Zhecheng, who just entered the house and was about to close the door, froze in his tracks as his temples started to throb.
He felt that he had given Wen Zhongyun too much freedom.
Wen Zhecheng closed the door, his expression serious as he walked step by step towards the source of the sound.
Wen Zhongyun was completely unaware of his son’s approach.
He was facing the computer screen, hands raised high in passionate movements—
No elderly person could resist the charm of square dancing!
Wen Zhongyun twisted along with Rong Yuheng in the hilarious video, loudly singing, “The vast horizon is my love~”
In the middle, there was a humorous subtitle that appeared,
“At the foot of the gentle green hills, I soar!”
Wen Zhecheng, who was already standing behind him, “…”
Wen Zhongyun happily danced through the video, and as the screen turned black, he raised his head and met the cold face reflected in the pitch-black screen, “…”
Wen Zhecheng’s chilly voice slipped from his attractive thin lips, “Dad, it seems like you’re being too lively.”
Wen Zhongyun retracted his restless hands, turned around guiltily, and tried to justify himself, “The charm of square dancing is just too great…”
Wen Zhecheng looked at him skeptically, and sternly admonished him, “You’re getting older, you can’t make such vigorous movements anymore.”
Wen Zhongyun said, “Not vigorous, not vigorous, let me show you an even more vigorous original version!” He said as he dragged the video back to the beginning, offering it as evidence of his innocence.
Wen Zhecheng sighed, “Dad, I don’t want…”
Suddenly, his voice faltered, and his gaze fixed on the familiar figure on the screen, energetically waving as if a supreme king was conquering new territory.
A moment passed.
Wen Zhecheng, “Fu.” A sound of astonishment
Author’s note: Wen Zhongyun: You “fu”ed! “Fu” means you’ve lost!
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