China’s Older Generation is Picking Up K-Pop Dance

Gen-Z is joining in on an activity previously reserved for the middle-aged, leading to a collision between two different forms of dance

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5:45 PM HKT, Tue November 7, 2023 1 mins read

A form of aerobic dance known as ‘square dancing’, or guangchangwu, is a popular pastime among China’s middle-aged and elderly folks — now though, the scene is welcoming an unexpected new audience.

An increasing number of Gen-Z and millennials are getting involved in square dancing, and at the same time, adding in elements from K-pop and jazz routines. The trend, which kicked off in June, started with one viral video on Instagram-like app Xiaohongshu.

The video showed younger and older crowds joining together in a choreography to the song ‘Flower’ by K-pop star Jisoo. It gained further traction when it was reposted by People's Daily, racking up over 90,000 likes and 2,000 comments.

Now, square dancing seems to be catching on amongst Gen-Z and millennials, especially as a way to rebuild one’s social life after the isolation of the pandemic.

“A lot of people I know have started to dance to K-pop, particularly groups of young people in the square. Each time I see them, I feel the urge to join in,” one Weibo user posted.

In another video, three younger dancers lead the local square dancing group in a performance of NewJeans’ ‘Super Shy.’

“It’s quite a fascinating experience,” wrote the user, surprised at how quickly senior dancers adapted to the new genre. “Notably, the lady dancing in the center performed with such precision and grace [even though the song seems like it’s for a younger audience]!”

As young people experience record levels of burnout and anxiety, some experts suggest that the phenomenon reflects a sense of longing for the relaxed lifestyle of retirees.

“After retirement, the elderly can enjoy free access to major parks and free public transport. Their pension income is stable, and they have flexible time,” says Xu Wensheng, founder of the National First Media Sociology Professional Committee. “These factors make the elderly seem like ‘winners in life’ in the eyes of young people.”

Image via Xiaohongshu

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