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China is full of cultural quirks, but this one has got to be one of my favourites.

When I lived in Shanghai, every morning I was be greeted by the same view out of my bedroom window. A group of Chinese ladies gathered in the public square dancing away to the tunes blasting out of the CD player on the sidewalk. This activity, known as Chinese fitness dancing, is a popular way for Chinese men and women to get some exercise, socialize, and have fun.

The dancing skills within the group always vary dramatically. Some dancers, typically positioned at the front of the group, are very impressive and perfectly synchronised to the music. Others, at the back, are the beginners, who have just recently joined the group. Fitness dancing is most common on weekday mornings, with the ladies/men getting out there shortly after sunrise. However, it’s not uncommon to find dancers in parks and public squares in the evenings and on weekends as well.

Check it out for yourself. This footage was caught in a park in Kunming in Yunnan province. While this isn’t the most choreographed group, I think it’s lovely!

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Cultural Close-ups is a series of photographs and stories from around the world that go beyond the pretty sights and famous attractions. If you’d like to contribute a photo and a short story to Cultural Close-Ups, please email your submission to [email protected]

Would you join the ladies and men in their morning fitness routine in China?

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