As dawn approaches, an elderly woman changes into dance clothes. She walks out of her senior living center and heads straight to the nearest mall plaza.

As the sun sets, a grandmother hurriedly stuffs her dinner plate in the sink. She bids farewell to her family and makes her way to the neighborhood square.

During sunrise or sunset, if you go to any sizable plaza or monument you might see large clusters of middle-aged retired women all dancing in unison. Some groups might even be sporting matching outfits, complete with elaborate fans. They are aiming for prestige!

These women are participating in Chinese square dancing, or 广场舞 (guáng cháng wǔ).

Chinese square dancing dates back to the 1990s. In China gyms are still expensive and a foreign concept to many people. However square dancing does not require much dancing experience and is a low-cost hobby to get into. This makes it incredibly easy for anyone to join.

This exercise activity is particularly popular among elderly women in China. Not only is it good for their physical health, but it also can improve their mental health.

Here are some benefits to these Chinese square dancers, and not just to the retirees!



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Chris Jiang

Chris is a student attending the College of William & Mary studying public policy and public health. He hopes to share the joys of Chinese culture with the rest of the world.