Beijing, Music and dance at Jingshan Park


One of my favorite places in Beijing is Jingshan Park on a Sunday afternoon. It must be one of the liveliest places in Beijing at that time of the day. Hundreds of people join in and enjoy dozens of music and dance performances. This isn’t the first post about its lively atmosphere and it will not be the last. A fortnight ago the political debates in the park were subject of a post.



A few months ago we posted a video of an elegant dancer with a long beard. This time we talked with him and he introduces himself as Mr. Tian Tan. His nickname, he tells us, is “Tian Tan Beardy Dancer”. He just finished dancing on music played with three accordions. The repertoire included old songs from Vietnam and from the former Soviet Union.


Tian Tan visits the park every Sunday afternoon. He is wearing special clothes for his dancing performance. The long black coat is tailor made. While his winter outfit for dancing is all black, his summer outfit is all white, he says.

Tian Tan is retired and used to work in the field of education. When asked how old he is, he answers that his age is below one hundred years.


We made a video impression of the Sunday afternoon activities in the park.

If your Internet is censored you will not be able to see the YouTube video that is supposed to be visible below. You can click here to see the Chinese version of this post and watch a low-res version of the video on TuDou.


Mr. Liu is one of the many spectators and visits the park every Sunday. He tells that most people performing are retired, but recently more and more people in their 30s are joining. Actually, you can see similar activities everywhere in Beijing, but Jingshan Park is the most lively of all. Many of the people who perform in Jingshan Park on a Sunday, do the same in the adjacent Beihai Park on Saturdays.


The tradition of group activities in the park started 20 years ago; when the reform and the policy to open-up China started, the government began to organize dancing activities. A few years later the government stepped back and the people started to organize the activities themselves, adding all the different performances that can be seen today.



Mr. Liu used to attend a singing group in the park. Now he prefers to take photos. He takes a camera wherever he goes, in order to record every moment of his life. He also loves traveling. He repeatedly emphasizes that a man who travels far, knows more. He also believes that the more one has experienced, the more open one’s mind will be. However, since he still needs to save money for his unmarried son’s wedding, he is not able to travel.



Mr. Zeng is retired and used to be a chemical engineer at Sinopec. He had a pretty busy job. Now he has plenty of time and ever since he retired, four years ago, he makes the one hour drive to Jingshan Park on the Sunday’s to sing with others. He did not know anyone in the beginning. By now he has made many friends.




Beijing, Chinese New Year fair


A British band was playing at the Chinese New Year fair in Chaoyang Park, Beijing. The music did not create much enthusiasm among the crowd and the lead singer talked a lot. At a certain point the singer estranged himself even more from the audience when he revealed that “Chinese people weren’t too bad after all”.


In the meantime, during all the talking, a middle aged woman was standing alone in the crowd with her eyes closed. Slowly she started moving her feet and body on, what seemed to be, her imagination of the music that was about to start again. It was clear: she was ready to rock!



When the music started, she already looked like in a trance and she exploded into an expressive dance. Within a minute she attracted more than half of the audience, turning their back to the band, to watch her perform her solo dance performance.




Hong Kong, Cantonese Opera



Shadows on a red canvas of Cantonese Opera actors playing in an open air theater in Hong Kong’s Sha Tin district. Apart from the story, the singing and the acting; the movement of the actors is important. These movements turn into a dance, supported by their outfit and the attributes they are carrying.