Whenever I get back to Shanghai after a trip, I like to wander around Fuxing Park and check that all the usual stuff is going on in the ‘hood. Backwards walking, check. Ballroom dancing, check. Inspirational Communist singing, check. There are thousands of activities taking place. Personally, I’m always impressed by the mature-age diablo fiends. You know what a diablo is, don’t you – a brightly coloured dumb-bell shaped plastic thingy, beloved of kids and hippy wannabe circus performers in other parts of the world. But in China, spinning the diablo is a retirement activity. Their primary coloured diablos whizz around them making an extraordinary noise, and they can do all sorts of incredble tricks. But today, as with every day in Shanghai, I saw something I’d never seen before. Masked, multi-diablo masters. A whole bunch of the devils.
Kite flying is a very popular past-time all over China, and especially so in Fuxing Park. This is not a hobby for mere kids, however, and those under 50 should practice elsewhere. Space on the big square grass lawn is hotly contested and turf wars play out constantly between the fighter kite guys, the bird kite guys and the air cell kite guys. Don’t even try turning up with your Hello Kitty kite. If the wind drops out suddenly though, all bets are off because all types of kites can end up in the giant kite graveyard tree at the southern end of the park. Try and get your torn and mangled kite out of this one, and you might end up with a hip replacement you weren’t banking on.
Or some solo tai chi? I’m not sure how she kept her composure and balance because there was a large group playing their maraccas right next to her. And next to them was the ‘Happy Every Day’ choir, who sing bracing communist era songs as a morning wake-up.
…………or take up ballroom dancing! This is by far the most popular activity with no less than 10 different ballroom groups competing for space around the park. Waltz? Jive? You’ll find it here. So when you’re in Shanghai make sure to spend a morning at the park. Oh! I forgot to mention there’s also kite-flying, chinese chess, free blood pressure checks, chinese opera, an area to practice your musical instrument in, sword fighting, badminton, diablo, card games…….you get the idea.