Across China, millions of older women gather at night in public squares to exercise, and their choice of activity is a Chinese version of square dancing.
But China has had enough of its “dancing grannies.”
On Monday, state media reported that Chinese authorities issued “standards and regulations” for square dancing, including a list of 12 approved dances.
According to NBC, the square dancing is called “Guangchang Wu,” and women dubbed the “dancing grannies” have sparked a debate in urban areas, where they are seen by young people as a nuisance as they spread out across public places and blast their music.
“Square-dancing represents the collective aspect of Chinese culture,” Chief of the General Administration of Sport’s Mass Fitness Department, Liu Guoyong, told the state-run China Daily, “but now it seems that the overenthusiasm of participants has dealt it a harmful blow with disputes over noise and venues. So we have to guide it with national standards and regulations.”
According to the New York Times, the grannies have been a point of tension for the past couple of years. In 2013, a man in Beijing was arrested after he fired a shotgun into the air and unleashed dogs on a group. Angry neighbors in Wuhan in the same year dumped feces on a group of dancing women. And last year, a group of residents raised $42,300 to buy a sound system to blast the dancers.
The regulations include 12 authorized drills choreographed by an expert panel and are based on popular dances and accompanied by pop music. The regulations also include permissible dancing times and music volume. The rules will be introduced in the next five months.
“All the negative comments on square-dancing are about reckless practicing without caring about the public benefits,” Guoyong told China Daily. “The unified drills will help keep the dancing on the right track where they can be performed in a socially responsible way.”
In Beijing, news of the regulations did not go over so well. Xiao Kai, who was dancing with more than 100 women and some men, told the New York Times: “That’s ridiculous … this isn’t a business. Dancing is free and voluntary, so why does the government need to get involved?”