Friday, May 7, 2010

Three-step change to "cha-cha-cha"

I used to have a huge collection of vinyl records till the CDs came and dominated my living room which almost blew it all. On the social contacts, the change resonates so well, maybe it is the reason to my sophisticated Chinese behavior. At home, I grew up with the waltz and the Blue Danube famous waltz by Austrian composer Johann Strauss. Dad just loves to play the vinyl from his gramophone and does his shadow waltzing around the house. My consumption of Strauss's Blue Danube waltz gradually expanded to musicals like Phantom of the Opera.

Ballroom dancing is popular and Chinese have been ballroom dancing in parks and dance halls for decades. It was a time when they didn’t during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 when the government banned things it saw as foreign and bourgeois. After the Cultural Revolution, people continue doing the waltz and tango in the local parks at night and Beijing is no exception. One thing that never fails to delight me is to stroll at the parks after dark. Now is a good time to be out on a cool spring night and see people; older and middle aged couples dancing the foxtrots, waltz, cha cha to the tunes from a huge boom box speaker. I am for one who can never master the three-step change with the verbal beat to "cha-cha-cha". Identifying the beats and rhythmic counts seems to mess with my hearing sense.

A lot of people don’t feel safe in parks but not here in China. It is safe to venture out into the dark without being afraid. People are friendly and you can join the fun if you are not conscious of the crowd watching you. Almost all the men and women are in their prime and still carrying themselves with all the elegance. There are no glitzes and glitters but only people in simple outfits dancing at the park. At the end of each dance, couples bow, hands clasped together when the music ended, then the static noise before the next song is played.

I know Beijing very well, the parks and hutongs (means old alleyways) which are traditional Chinese neighborhood, houses built. There are many parks where the locals relax, take their pets for a walk, do their Tai Chi exercise, and a host or other things. I saw Domino's, Mah Jong being played, heart choirs singing the Jasmine Flower song (Mòlìhuā) and thousands of people practicing martial arts dance or even Wushu. There are so much activities happening at the park, from sunrise to sunset. I have taken Wushu lessons at the park and have been around Wushu for so long that it is sometimes hard to remember how it felt to discover Wushu for the first time. There have been a lot of friends I have met through Wushu over the years. More than I could really list out in any adequate fashion. Some of them have been positive experiences, and some of them have been negative, but all in all my time hanging out and training with Wushu has been one of enjoyable growth.

The peace of the park, the kite pilgrims with kites flying above and gorgeous views on clear days, the sunset stroll; it all contributes to the microcosm of Chinese culture and its role as microcosm of the Chinese experience. The beautiful landscape of the Chinese garden has a place at heart for Chinese including myself to enjoy the positive energies and emotional connection.

There is something so exhilarating about sunshine and warmth after a long cold winter. So, what is the same or different, and are the changes, pluses or minuses. Like the seasons, they are each unique. I don’t know about you, I will keep practicing my beats and do the verbal expressions to synch with the three-counts, “cha-cha-cha".

“What is noteworthy about that moment, beyond its poignancy, is that I did not create it; I merely experienced it and let it unfold.” – Taken from the Cab Ride by Kent Nerburn –

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