Square dancing, Chinese style – Guest Post by Daniel Otero

Square dancing, Chinese style – Guest Post by Daniel Otero

Chinese Square DancingWith the proliferation of Sino-Pop around the world came a new dance craze. It was a grand moment for a culture that used to keep everything private. Suddenly, people began doing things outdoors.

People started to gather around the plazas and town squares to listen to tunes, and from here it was developed into a form of square dancing.

A generation began to move and groove. These people wanted what they had missed: mambo, cha-cha, tango, and electronic-pop. They did it to a new vibe, you know, to those old-syrupy tunes from back in the days of Teresa Teng. Yes, when her hits began to scorch the charts and rhythms became a permanent part of the Chinese psyche with “Sweet Honey”.

And what did millions of Chinese began to do?

They formed clubs or associations and then took to parks across China to learn how to dance to a classical tune.

Chinese Square DancingChina began experimenting certain social changes with the Baby Boomers and Generation ‘X’, who began to radically transform the country. It manifested in music and body movement. And what began as a simplistic notion turned to something not seen since the dancing culture of the Han Dynasty.

The weekends came and went. But one thing became a symbol of the new China. It was to do a communal gathering every Friday, Saturday, or Sunday evening. And it formed into something special, catching with a fever like wildfire across the nation.

What you have today is something that now symbolizes and it is China. It’s certainly part of every city and town. The local gathering and to dance the night away for three or more hours.

It’s a way to admire people in their 40s, 50s, and as late as their 80s, sweating away their frustrations. Most of the middle and elder ages come together to have fun, associate, mingle with the neighbors, enjoy the local gossip, and, of course, dance! Dancing has become a staple to keep fit and young.

Most people who get out there to have fun are usually women. Men also gather as part of the action; however, the females outnumber the males 10 to 1 in the performance of the dance.

While moving in an almost perfect Ying and Yang circle once they get the momentum going.

Inside a culture that is most likely very shy, these people are out and about.

It has been my experience that whether in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, Nanjing, Jiangsu or Chengdu, Sichuan, you can see the older people grooving and having a good time!

Chinese Square DancingEven for a foreigner like me, I’ve risen a couple of occasions to dance the night away and learn something not often seen in America. A possible phenomena as old as time, and for me it’d be my greatest wish for it to catch on around the United States in a way to sweat away the calories and slim down our backsides.

What’s my biggest fear is the following…

This cultural and stylish phenomena can easily disappear in the next 40 years. Why? If the millennial generation doesn’t get away from their phones and shyness to swing around, they’ll lose something that has become quite unique with China and ingrained in its culture, the desires for the dance.

For now and while I’m in China, I’ll still head out during my weekends to have a gorgeous moment and square dance in a Chinese style.

 

Daniel Otero was born on the tough streets of Brooklyn, New York.  He’s a passionate teacher and freelance writer who loves his work and by the summer of 2018 his second book will be published, “The Artist of War”.

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