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Unstoppable march of dancing dama

2013-12-25 14:34 Global Times Web Editor: Yao Lan

After moving into a new neighborhood, I've been feeling refreshed and pleased with everything, save for the unstoppable noise that pierces through the toughened-glass windows every rainless evening and fills the entire apartment with rhythmic drumbeats right between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.

Soon I found out it was a group of Chinese dama, older women, who gather together every evening at a nearby square and exercise in clear-cut rows. The uproar comes from their amplifier, which starts with relatively soft warm-up music but soon jumps into a spree of Chinese rock.

This is the very first time I have truly envied Americans. A few weeks ago, a group of Chinese dama practiced the same enthusiastic exercise in New York's Brooklyn Sunset Park, harassing nearby residents with equally astounding noise. But the problem was solved very efficiently; the police arrived, bringing a pair of handcuffs and taking the leading dama away.

In China, there is no way to transplant this efficient means of noise control, as "public square dancing" has swept the entire nation and become the most fashionable form of exercise among Chinese dama, who gather together punctually every day, even in chilly northern winters.

In New York, it has been the law since July 2008 that the sources of all noises beyond 45 decibels must be suspended. But in China, this might lock up millions of the elderly.

Browsing online, the number of complaints about dancing dama inflaming residents is overwhelming. I have complained to the property management office of our apartment building, and they said they would try to talk to the neighborhood committee, find out where they come from, and figure out a solution. However, after reading through dozens of funny posts online, I guess it will be a long-lasting war.

In the cases contributed by netizens throughout the nation, most residents versus dancing dama stories end up with the dama's complete victory.

"I called 110," one netizen in Guangzhou wrote, "but the operator laughed bitterly and said they've sent policemen several times. He tried to persuade me! 'Why not just treat it just like free music?' "

As a victim myself, I can deeply understand why the dancing rock cannot be treated as "free music." It is neither subtle jazz nor soft piano solos, but pop songs that integrate strong drumbeats into every single rhythm, so as to stir up participants' passion in stretching arms and kicking legs.

Such frequent drumbeats hit right at my heart every two seconds, though I was meters far away from them and behind triplex window glass, and make my nerves dance nervously alongside the jubilant dama.

Two things make this scenario even worse. One, there is no park under construction nearby. One can argue about the absence of public services, but while resident apartment buildings are red hot items for the expanding population, I am afraid the allocation of land for new parks cannot be prioritized any time soon.

And as "public spaces" like parks are often absent, a sense of behaving properly in public space is far from being established.

In fact, if dancing groups could control the sound volume rather than turning up the volume so loud that people a hundred meters away become unwilling participants, nobody would mind their activities at all.

Among the online cases, there are a few cases in which residents claim the final victory, but invariably through amusingly violent means.

"Early this morning a godsend neighbor saved us all," one netizen narrated excitedly, "He dropped a firecracker and the group of dama dancing downstairs scattered away within a blink of an eye!"

In another block, a group of furious residents, after repeatedly negotiating with dama to little effect, organized themselves and poured shit into the square. The stink successfully kept the dama from dancing for quite a while.

Beijing, one of the largest metropolises in China, is increasingly exposed to noise pollution. The municipal government issued a regulation on environmental noise that took effect since January 1, 2009. But this is mainly targeted at industrial and traffic noise, rather than neighborhood dancing at the moment.

I don't know how the seesaw battle will turn out in my neighborhood, but definitely I don't want to get to the stage where human excrement becomes the ultimate weapon to safeguard my rest.

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