Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Relaxing in a Chinese Park

Dancing is something you see often in China. Like everything else here it is slightly different than you might imagine. This shot is in a park in Harbin in the Daoli district. There were actually more dancers but my "date" wanted to take a shot of me. During the summertime some streets come alive with as many as 100 or more people dancing. It is usually the older crowd and the dancing is a group thing. Much like line dancing in Country music. Music might be taped or there may be a drummer and another musician. I think it exemplifies the Chinese mindset. The communal aspect of living, the group dynamic and fitting into the group. I remember the first time I went to a disco. My employers at the school treated us to a night out and we went to a nice hotel, in a busy commercial area that is very popular with the locals. Our host, my bosses husband was most generous keeping our beers coming and there was also a bottle of Jack Daniels. He is a high ranking policeman, way high. There were also several lovely young women who were invited to sit with us. I do mean lovely too, and even though they were probably working, their decorum was very "traditional".

Now, the dancing here, I can only describe as somewhat strange. First there were gogo girls on each side of the DJ area, which was in front of the dance floor, and dancing boys. Now a couple of them were definately boys, complete with that swish swish thing, and an outfit with a plunging neckline, which was definately not purchased in a mens shop. Here the dancing is like one group grope, without the grope. Rather a communal powwow, tuning in to the music and tuning out to everything else. You don't dance with anyone, you just grove to the music, in many cases you could not really say it was dancing. You know like that guy at the sock hop who used to do the Chicken Scratch. It was a little suprising to see the kids tuning out and rocking in solitude. This sort of dancing is common but you will also see more of what you are used to, a guy dancing with a girl, at different venues. It is quite common to also see the boys dancing with each other, as well as girls dancing with each other. It is very common to see older women dancing together in the streets, as there may not be enough men to practice the ballroom type steps you may see. In the discos however you really see alot of solo dancing, and it's okay as there are many that are doing the same thing. It's actually quite the opposite of the way things are in the west, where solo dancers are often seen but it is generally the person who is the freebird of the group. The iconoclast. There are some really great Chinese dancers in many styles, but there are also lots of people who have two left feet. This impediment does not affect their enjoyment. Being a new arrival, I really would have liked a night cap with one of the girls but it was far beyond my means, and who knows it may have been a sort of test by my employer. It was great fun though as it was one of my first nights out in Harbin. We hopped in my bosses Land Cruiser and headed out into the night. Later I wondered just how he was able to drive a 60,000 dollar SUV. Well come to think of it he didn't have to pay for any of the drinks so I'm sure that helps.
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Larry aka worldtour


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