Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dancing in China

We just came back from a trip to China.  It was a great learning experience for us on every level.  Of course we looked to see how the Chinese REWIRE after they retire.  To our amazement one of the activities beside Tai Chi that retirees are into big time is dancing. Group dancing, individual dancing, sword dancing, folk dancing, ballroom dancing, dancing with a partner; you name it they dance it.  We found this out on one of our first mornings in Beijing and witnessed it every place we went inside the country.

China has beautiful parks in most every city large and small.  If you go to the park in the morning, you can see what we are talking about.  Men and women are out getting exercise, socializing, loosening stiff joints, and kindling new friendships.  When they go to bed at night, they have something to look forward to. When the alarm rings they head to a social event.  Some dress in their normal street clothes.  Others are in dancing attire and some are in outfits that resemble pajamas…satiny and shinny. 

Retirement in China isn’t easy.  Pensions aren’t large and apartments and homes are small.  So they need to be creative and find something that will get them outside and moving. Dancing is one of those activities.  Our guide told us they do it in all seasons.  Yes, even in the cold of winter and the heat of summer.  Rain does put a dent in things, but you can buy a cheap rain suit and keep dancing.

History buffs will recall that Chairman Mao loved to dance.  The Memorial Dance Floor at the Raffles Hotel in Beijing is a restored piece of history. Mao and President Nixon danced there, but not with each other.  Perhaps the Chinese have a dancing gene in their collective DNA.  It gives a whole new meaning to “Bop to you Drop.”

We loved it because it represents so much we advocate in Don’t Retire, REWIRE!  Dancing helps people stay connected to others; provides excellent physical activity; offers structure to the day; and provides a purpose.  You can work on your dancing skills, be in competitions if you so choose, or continuously learn new steps.  That’s what we call Driver fulfillment. 

There is one downside however.  It is a cautionary tale.  The divorce rate among retirees is climbing slightly.  Some men and women are finding that they like dancing with their new partner better than dancing with their spouses. 

More on China is coming in future blogs.  Stay tuned!