Grooving grannies encounter opposition
Oct 26th 2013 | BEIJING |From the print edition
ON OCTOBER 11th a story buried on page 15 of a Beijing newspaper drew national attention. A man in Changping, on the edge of the capital, had allegedly fired a shotgun into the air and set loose three Tibetan mastiffs to scare away a group of women whose public dancing annoyed him. The man was arrested, but received much sympathy online.
Groups of people, often older women, dancing in public, are an increasingly common sight in Chinese cities. In the early morning and evening they set up loudspeakers in parks or squares to exercise, gossip and show off a little.
They call it guangchangwu, or “square dancing”, after the venues where they meet. Syrupy songs, and Western styles, are much in favour. The tunes of Phoenix Legend, a duo from the song-and-dance troupe of China’s strategic missile force, are hugely popular among guangchangwu aficionados.
Many people grumble about the grannies and their throbbing music. Altercations often break out. The mayor’s hotline in Hefei, in the central province of Anhui, has received more than 200 complaints about guangchangwu so far this year. But officials are usually reluctant to intervene. As one local-government website put it: dancing grannies are preferable to those “wallowing in mah-jong and other bad activities”.