By Chelsey Chen
In recent years, there is a very popular and special type of dancing trending in China, known in Chinese as ‘Guang Chang Wu’, or ‘square-dancing’ in English. Also referred to as ‘plaza-dancing’, the activity typically involves groupdancing in asquare, plaza, or city park. Accompanied by a variety of music, this type of dance is popularin many cities in China. Because‘square-dancing’ is low cost or often free, people can dance with friends any time they want to, leading to its quick rise in popularity in China recently.
Chinese square dancing is a great form of aerobic exercise, and its biggest advantage is to allow people stay fit without the use or purchase of any professional fitness equipment. Most ‘square-dancers’ are female, but recently more male participants have gotten involved. The activity appeals to the middle-age and elderly especially, and the average age of most dancers is above 45 years old. ‘Square-dancing’ appears in many different styles, including modern dance, traditional Chinese dance, tap dance, square dance for 16 steps, and dance workouts. The four most important characteristics of ‘square-dancing’ are collectiveness, randomness, self-entertainment, and spontaneity. Thus, ‘square-dancing’ has no precise rules to limit prospective dancers. Participants just need to follow the music, play, and have fun. It is because of these reasons that the activity has caught-on so quickly.
But these are not the only reasons that excited many middle-aged women to join‘square-dancing,’ a lot began dancing because they saw potential benefits for their health. If a person dances very often, it can improve their physical well-being, as it can help speed up their metabolism, strengthen their heart and lung functions, and improve their cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Psychological benefits also attract new participants. Many young Chinese people do not have time to spend with their parents, so dancing helps the elderly meet new friends and have fun with their old friends in theirboring life. For them,‘square-dancing’ is a great big party together.
On the other hand, there are some shortcomings for society regarding this dance. First, ‘square-dancing’ is a group activity, and usually takes place in a random location, and so it can occupy a lot of a city’s free space. This can lead to traffic problems and displace other sports. Second, ‘square-dancing’ usually includes very loud music, which becomes a huge issue for some residents. Because so many dancers like to dance very early in the morning, for example around 6:00am, many people find the activity disruptive. The dance music oftenprevents many workersfrom completing a full night’s rest, and does not allow sleeping-in on weekends. The noise also bothers some people at work when the dancers are active during working hours.
These problems made the Chinese government anxious about ‘square-dancing’. Eventually, they published rules over the last two years, which are set according to local requirements. These guidelines have been a big help. For example, the speakers of ‘square-dancing’ music cannot go above 60 decibelsinany city. In Shanghai, dancers cannot use any speakers or musical equipment at all. In Guangzhou, the local government selected two times that people are forbidden to dance, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm and 10:00pm to 8:00am the next day.
Today, you can see a lot of Chinese joining‘square-dances’, with some even breaking-world records. On the 7th of November, 2015, Chinese middle-aged women established the record for theworld’s largest rehearsal, with about 18,431 people participating in an anti-smoking propaganda event. However, this is not enough to show how much the Chinese women love ‘square-dancing’. Even abroad in foreign countries,you mayencounter many old Chinese women dancing in the streets. No matter where in the world you travel,whether Paris, Italy, or Moscow,you can see the Chinese ‘square-dancers’. The spread of ‘square dancing’ around the world demonstrates howimportant the hobby has become in Chinese culture in such a short time.
Main photo source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/11491388/Square-dancing-unruly-Dont-tell-the-Queen.html