onsdag 25. januar 2023

China’s University Students Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

One Wednesday night in late 2022, Qiao Feifei, a sophomore majoring in Chinese international education at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), dashed out of the cafeteria and headed for the small square in front of the auditorium. His plan was to snag a spot in the first row of the square dance.

Not to be confused with the famous American square dance, this dance, popular amongst older women colloquially referred to as aunties, is called this in China because it actually takes place in a public square.

Qiao sat on the steps and waited. Half an hour later, his phone vibrated with a message from the square dancing group he had pinned on WeChat: “Come out and dance.” The text came every night at 7 p.m. from Qingqing, the group admin who worked as a custodian for the school. The group started with only a dozen older women, but later ballooned to three group chats that would occasionally max out at 500 members each.