leisure culture


leisure culture
Poker, chess and mahjong, along with early morning exercises and singing parties in city parks, were among the very few Chinese pastimes for decades. ‘Decadent tunes’ from Taiwan and Hong Kong slipping into a newly opened China in late 1970s set off the history of its pop music. A dancing craze soon seized the country, followed by the enthusiasm for karaoke, assisted first by analogue tapes and later by digital CDs. Leisure culture diversified in 1990s as the economic reform considerably improved the Chinese living standard. Elderly people began to publicly display their skills in yangge, a traditional Chinese folk dance, while a burgeoning middle class, though still a small minority, took the lead in new leisure trends: golfing, bowling, parachuting, fishing, climbing, piloting, bungee jumping, and even participating in Hashing, an eccentric international running game.
Flourishing everywhere were massage bathhouses, indoor swimming pools, dance clubs, gymnasiums, beauty parlours, teahouses, cafés and all kinds of bars. Video, CD, DVD and cable TV became standard household entertainment.
The Chinese government’s decision to substantially extend paid holidays consecutively in 2000 and 2001 created a holiday economy. Travelling at home and abroad is now a new fad. Average Chinese enjoy nongjiale (an experience of packaged rural life), while the wealthier flood vacation resorts: the city of Zhuhai (Guangdong) alone entertained 8 million visitors in 2001, eight times the city’s total population. Despite periodic crackdowns, vices like drug use and unlicensed prostitution have found their way (back) into the leisure culture.
Hansson, Anders (ed.) (2002). The Chinese at Play. London: Kegan Paul.
YUAN HAIWANG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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