China’s Square Dancing Posted by on Mar 10, 2021 in Culture

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If you ever visited a Chinese city and got to do some sightseeing of its parks and plazas, you probably encountered one of China’s popular folk dances – the public square dancing 广场舞 (guǎng chǎng wǔ).


Guǎng chǎng wǔ dǎo zài Zhōngguó shì yī gè fēi cháng zhòng yào de yì shù xíng shì. Qún zhòng zì fā zǔ zhī, zài shì qū de guǎng chǎng, gong yuán, děng jiǎn lòu de kòng dì biǎo yǎn de wǔ dǎo. Guǎng chǎng wǔ dǎo biàn bù le Zhōngguó měi yī gè jiǎo luò.

Square dancing is a very important art form in China. The masses spontaneously organize dances in the squares, parks, and other simple open spaces in the city. Square dancing can be found everywhere in China.

In China’s cities, big and small, you could see groups of dancers occupying urban open spaces, dancing together to the sound of mostly Chinese music. All genres are welcome – from pop to propaganda. One of the pop songs, for example, that became popular among the square dancers is the 2009 hit 最炫民族风 (zuì xuàn mín zú fēng), by one of China’s hottest pop music duos Phoenix Legend. Watch the masses square dancing to their performance on the Chinese New Year celebration of 2012:

Other popular songs are: 《套马杆》, 《荷塘月色》, 《伤不起》, 《小苹果》, 《又见山里红》, 《自由飞翔》, 《爱情买卖》.

The number of China’s public square dancing’s participants has been estimated to be over 100 million. Most of them are Chinese seniors, who are enjoying the low cost group activity. Public square dancing is not only fun, it’s also affordable. Access to a dancing troupe is unlimited and the steps are easy to learn. The music sweeps a person around, and the Chinese seniors are also attracted by the benefits of the light cardio workouts and socialization opportunities. For elders who had already retired, and for those who are living alone since their children left home, square dancing can provide the opportunity to talk with others, and to be part of a group.

Since most participants are middle-aged and elderly women they are called in Chinese 广场舞大妈们 (guǎng chǎng wǔ dà mā men), dancing grannies in English. For example:


Zhè lǐ de dà bù fèn guǎng chǎng wǔ dà mā jiù shì běn dì de tuì xiū shì mín.

Most of the square dancers here are local retired citizens.


Guǎng chǎng wǔ dà mā men de màn miào wǔ zī huó yuè zài dà jiē xiǎo xiàng.

The graceful dance of the dancing grannies takes place in the big street and small alleys.


Suí zhe nián líng de zēng zhǎng, rén gèng róng yì gǎn dào gū dú. Dà mā què měi zhōu jù shàng 2~3 cì, zài xiàn le cóng qián zài yī gè dān wèi dì měi hǎo gǎn jué.

As people grow older, they are more likely to feel lonely. The dancing grannies, however, gather 2 to 3 times a week, reviving the old good feeling of being a part of a unit.

For the dancing grannies square dancing is more than a hobby. They usually never miss a practice. Even 10 degrees below zero is no excuse, as you can watch in the next item:

Square dancing, indeed, has many benefits. It’s a healthy hobby, for the soul and body. And not only can the participants enjoy it, but the viewers, as well. One girl, for example, enjoys the vibe:

一到晚上,我们的广场上总是很热闹。那里的灯全部亮起来, 广场上总是挤满了人在学舞蹈, 每个人都显得十分活力!

Yī dào wǎn shàng, wǒ men de guǎng chǎng shàng zǒng shì hěn rè nào. Nà lǐ de dēng quán bù liàng qǐ lái, guǎng chǎng shàng zǒng shì jǐ mǎnle rén zài xué wǔ dǎo, měi gè rén dōu xiǎn dé shí fēn huó lì!

Every evening, our square is bustling with noise. All the lights are on, and the square is crowded with people learning to dance, everyone seems so energetic!

Next time you are in China, you are welcome to watch and enjoy. But do yourself a favor and join in.


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