The story appears on

Page A4

December 9, 2013

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Metro » In-depth

Dancing groups ruffle feathers around city

When night falls, Auntie Liu dons her dancing clothes, walks about 20 minutes to Sichuan Road N. Park in Hongkou District and joins groups of people there tripping the light fantastic.

“It is my favorite pastime since retirement,” said Liu, 56. “I feel energetic and younger when I am dancing.”

Dancing in the dark is nothing new in China. It is especially popular among older people.

But dancing means music, and music all too often means audio gear turned up too loud.

The southern city of Guangzhou is considering a law banning dancing in public places, which has put the issue in the public spotlight.

Proponents of the law say that nighttime dancing creates too much noise at a time of day when many neighbors crave peace and quiet or want to sleep. The proposed law could result in fines of up to 1,000 yuan (US$161) for violators.

Shanghai has embarked on its own curtailment of street noise after dark.

Starting March 1, regulations came into effect banning dancers and outdoor karaoke singers from playing loud music in public areas from 10pm to 6am.

Audio equipment with speakers is prohibited all day at such venues, except for government-approved entertainment performances.

Violators can be fined up to 500 yuan by police if their noise disturbs others. But in the nine months since the regulations came into effect, there seems to have been little enforcement.

Nighttime dancing

In Shanghai, there are several public areas popular with nighttime dance groups.

In addition to the Sichuan Road N. Park in Hongkou, Zhongshan Park in Changning District, Yangpu Park in Yangpu District and Meichuan Road in Putuo District are among the most widely known.

“Some of the dancers live far away and have to take two buses to come here because they love dancing like I do and get addicted to it,” said Liu, brushing off criticism about the effects of noise on adjacent neighborhoods.

But her rapture is not shared by everyone.

Residents living at nearby communities have been known to hurl “excreta bombs” at dancers or even set Tibetan mastiffs loose on them in some parts of China.

“These dancers are driving me mad,” said Tian Fengfeng, 50, who lives opposite Sichuan Road N. Park.

“These groups compete with each other in terms of the loudness of music. They should be absolutely banned from dancing near residential communities. They are selfish, and the noise they make severely affects me.”

Tian said he has to keep his balcony windows closed and thick curtains drawn to keep out the noise. He has resorted to turning up his television or radio, and wearing earplugs and thick hats when he goes to bed. He said his complaints to authorities have drawn no response.

Angry residents of the building once posted a notice alongside the elevator of the first floor, urging others to take action, such as dousing dancers with cold water, but the campaign was thwarted by security guards, Tian said.

American Mike Peterson living at the same residential community said the dancing is noisy, but he tries to show some understanding.

“The sidewalk singing and dancing from 6pm to 10pm are too loud, and they spill onto the streets, putting themselves and others in danger,” he said. “But I can usually count on the local cops to show up and end the fun promptly at 10pm.” Peterson, who has been living in Shanghai for about two-and-a-half years, said public complaints really don’t work.

“It seems a waste of time since the police just stroll around waiting for the 10pm curfew,” he said. “I have mentioned the noise to the security guards in my building a few times, but they just shrug their shoulders and say, ‘What can we do?’”

Yu Wenyan, a resident living near Yangpu Park, another popular spot for night dancing, said her son will sit the senior high school entrance examination next year and she fears the noise is distracting him from his evening homework.

“I just wish these dancers would think about others,” the mother said.

Backlog of complaints

Shanghai’s public service hotline 12345 said it receives about 20 to 30 complaints about noise every day.

The complaints often get shuffled from one government authority to another.

“We passed complaints on to the park authorities, who said police are responsible,” one hotline worker told Shanghai Television.

“When we called police, we were told we should contact urban management authorities, and when we turned to them, we were told the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau is in charge. As a result, more than 440 complaints have been backlogged.”

The Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau told Shanghai Daily that urban management officials cooperate with law enforcement on the issue, but they are not a major enforcer.

The Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said it is working on details of implementing the regulations to make clear who is responsible for what.

So the dancing goes on. At about 7:45pm, at least 100 people were dancing at the Sichuan Road N. Park, with at least six stereos playing loud music. Just opposite the park, at least two or three groups were dancing in the street.

One person’s cacophony is another’s harmony.

“Dancing in public place is an expression of lively people,” said Frenchwoman Celine Chanut, who lives in the city. “In France, it’s part of what it’s called street art. I don’t think it is annoying at all. On the contrary, it’s nice for people to get together, to feel human, to interact with others, to relax and to have fun. In France we say dancing is an expression of life.”

Frantisek Reismuller, a native of the Czech Republic who lives in Shanghai, said he thinks it’s fine for people to dance in public areas and a ban is not necessary.

“I regard it a very specific part of local atmosphere,” he said. “Of course, it should not annoy anyone, so it’s always better done in parks than in the streets, and the music level should also be reasonable.”



Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend