Found in translation episode 12
When the blissful holiday is over, we go back to the city of lights, back to our offices and schools. Facekinis need to wait for at least a couple of months at the bottom of our closets until they see sunshine and salty waters again. If you feel a bit down because of that, there is some good news! We live in one of the world’s foremost metropolises which spoils us for choice of entertainment. Whatever hedonistic lifestyle you wish to have here, Shanghai will cater to you and even exceed your expectations. Till you get dizzy. But it hasn’t always been like this and the peculiar ‘living proof’ remains in the form what, back in the day, was the only way Chinese people could unwind.
A quick peek at the historical background to explain that: in 1949 'modern China' - so called PRC - began. More than ten years later, General Mao put the Cultural Revolution into effect. During that time, smart individuals were sent to the countryside to spread the love for Chairman Mao and his visions. And it was there, in the rural areas, where Mao's cohort witnessed how the peasants, not really excited about the extreme requirements for food production, relieved their fatigue. The key word was Yangge – a popular, traditional performance , practiced in the North during special celebrations on the agricultural calendar, like harvest time. And since fun has the biggest impact on people, the Communist Party tried to take advantage of it - they politicized Yangge, appropriating it to communicate their own messages. Its goal was also to relieve the tense relationship between the party and the people. Soon after they changed their minds, though, and Yangge was banned, just like any other forms of art. Fortunately, fun memories die hard and the generations who experienced the Cultural Revolution kept the tradition of collective dancing alive. So when China was born again thanks to Deng Xiaoping and his ‘gaige kaifang’ ( open policy ), the aging people who experienced Cultural Revolution in their teens didn’t hesitate for too long how they wanted to spend their found leisure time and keep fit. This is how 广场 – guǎng chǎng - square ; 舞 wǔ ( short form of 跳舞 - tiào wǔ) dancing - was born. Even now, no matter which Chinese city you visit – Shanghai, Beijing or Sanya - one thing they all have in common – guǎng chǎng wǔ is still a daily ritual. Every day between 7 and 8 at various squares, parks, or closed communities you will see them all – the tuhao ones and the humble diaosi , in their 50s and up, some even dressed to impress, gathered on a flat, paved area, ready to rock their grooving moves. Although the dance can be pretty much free styled, the space itself needs to meet quite a few criteria that were observed in a serious study on guǎng chǎng wǔ. The area needs to: 1) Be flat and paved 2) Have overhead lighting for nighttime dancing 3) Be large enough for 30 – 60 bodies 4) Have overhead protection from burning sunshine 5)Be an appropriate distance from residential areas or office buildings to avoid noise complaints 6) Include nearby facilities for resting 7) Have a special boundary to help create a sense of place 8) Be close to home 9) Be visible to spectators. Quite a few, right? And even though it always seems to be pretty much the same and some grumpy foreigners like one of my colleagues complain that guǎng chǎng wǔ performers ‘never improve and keep being clumsy even the 100th time he sees them’, to me it’s quite cool. Instead of giving up on the joy of life and spending all day at home , watching episode #1000 of some TV show like the pensioners tend to do in my country, here in China it's like in a Whitney Houston song ’Clock strikes upon the hour and the sun begins to fade, still enough time to figure out how to chase my blues away(…), and when the night falls, the loneliness/ guǎng chǎng wǔ calls.'
My name is Gosia and I come from Poland. I set up my blog - Shanghai City Girl - out of my passion for writing,Chinese language and Shanghai itself.My goal is to explain Chinese slang and peculiar local culture, give tips about health and saving money in this overwhelming city!
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