The Chinese elderly are the most vibrant seniors I have ever seen, although our guide Babbitt pointed out that I am only seeing the vibrant ones. They participate in morning exercise and evening exercise in the parks of Beijing and Shanghai in several ways:

Tai chi. You could have guessed that, right? But also:

Hackey sack. Instead of a small ball they used an oversized badminton birdie. If the birdie comes your way you have to kick it once before kicking it to someone else in the circle.

Seniors’ disco. Someone brings a boombox and plays cheerful boppy music and lines of seniors, mostly women, follow the leader in lines of 20 to 30 people.


Jonathan loves his dumplings.

Ballroom dancing. Lots of men do this too. Couples do stately moves to another boombox.

Karaoke singing.  Not really exercise, but sometimes the singers, who usually sing old Chinese revolutionary tunes, attract a moving audience.

Outside our Beijing hotel, blocks from the Forbidden City, a conga line of old ladies bops back and forth to a boombox in the evenings.  Just up the street there is a church plaza where on one side, seniors ballroom dance, and on the other, young people spin and breakdance. What a phenomenal way to spend your evening. What a phenomenal people.