When stuck on a bus during a traffic jam, middle-aged Chinese women got out, turned up the music, got in formation, and danced! They performed choreographed routines, right in the middle of the highway, as they waited for the congestion to clear up.
Older middle-aged Chinese women dancing to choreographed routines is a common sight in China and in overseas Chinese communities. It’s also common wherever middle-aged Chinese women, known as “aunties,” go for travel. Like the time Chinese aunties group-danced at the Louvre in Paris and at the Red Square in Moscow.
Usually the dancing is done on public plazas, and is called plaza dancing. It is accompanied by a stereo system blasting music. A head dancer leads the group in routines done empty handed, with fans, or with swords.
Inside and outside China, the dancing has led to tension due to the overly loud music that accompanies the dancing. Another point of displeasure are the origins of the dance. Some see it as an ugly remnant of the Cultural Revolution, when the communist party made citizens dance to enforce loyalty to Mao and the communist party.
These days, the dances are a social activity that aging ladies have turned to for regular exercise and friendship. Perhaps the traffic jam dance was what Chinese aunties chose to do instead of wait. But if the authoritarian origins of the dance are true, then it may be a result of deeply ingrained social programming.