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Chinese Parks Are For Dancing (VIDEO)

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In city parks all across China, dusk heralds the arrival of thousands for large group dances. Weather permitting, these get-togethers take place just about every evening and generally fall into one of two categories: line or ballroom-style partner dances.

They are a source of exercise and community that has become a large part of the Chinese urban lifestyle.

There is very little formal organization for most of these groupings. Generally for the line dances an instructor, who may or may not be the DJ, will lead their group in something resembling the Electric Slide to music played from cassettes or CDs and broadcast through a few speakers carted in for the evening. Most of the line dance participants are women; during the dance, they face the same direction allowing the less experienced to learn from the veterans.

The music for the line dances ranges from traditional to techno-pop, sometimes accompanied by an MC counting down particular sections of the routine. For the ballroom style dances couples or friends will partner off, improvising more than following. This style tends to draw an older crowd, and has become an important way many Chinese senior citizens stay healthy and active.

In parks in the large cities, the open areas where people congregate for these dances may have several different styles operating in tandem. And just as many gather to watch the dancers and socialize in lieu of directly participating.

The below video, shot over a July evening in the city of Shenzhen's Huanggang Park, is typical of what a traveler can encounter on any normal evening in China.