ballroom dancing

In Mandarin Chinese, ballroom dancing is called ‘social dance’ (jiaoyiwu/hejiaowu) or ‘international dance’ (guoji biaozhunwu/guojiwu), and it has been associated with Western cosmopolitanism since its introduction into China, particularly Shanghai, in the early part of the last century. It was largely forbidden during the Cultural Revolution, but after the era of reform began, it was among the recreational dance forms that replaced the mass calisthenics of the Maoist era as daily exercise. Commercial ballrooms were first allowed in Beijing in May 1987, although they appeared in other cities a few years earlier.
In Beijing by the mid 1990s, several hundred dancers, the majority of them middle-aged or elderly retirees, convened from dawn until about 8.00 a.m. in the large parking lot across from the Capitol Gymnasium, and smaller groups occupied parks and grassy islands around the city.
In the college dances of the mid to late 1980s, students typically danced with same-sex partners. Starting in the mid 1990s, in classes at colleges and universities, males danced with females, with the goal of teaching students how to interact with the opposite sex in a ‘civilized’ manner, and of preparing them for the newly emerging job market by developing their social poise and their cosmopolitan refinement. By the new millennium, ballroom dancing had become a fixture of social life in the dance halls of the multi-functional recreational clubs, where state officials and private entrepreneurs formed and cemented their social networks.
See also: leisure culture
SUSAN BROWNELL

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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