A WALK IN THE PARK
hand swirling around to a slow melody reminiscent of a ballroom party. Two steps, there are a group of
nd middle aged men with matching yellow tracksuit pants breaking it down to a popular song while some passersby follow along in the background. Three steps, one eccentric star of the show shines out in a crowd, an elderly man donning a tight fitting black singlet and glossy pants struts up and down shaking his hips while absorbed in his own world as he attracts many curious eyes. The People’s Park in Chengdu is famous for its boisterous spectacle, receiving the unofficial nickname of “noisiest park in the world”. It feels as if this hotchpotch of competing sounds and conflicting dance groups is a balancing act on a thin tightrope. If the same situation was to be placed in any other context, I imagine fights would instantly break out over who is entitled to the largest legroom, or whose music could be projected the furthest. Somehow the fusion of old and new, slow and fast paced music seems to blend together like a time warp machine of remixed songs. However, conflicts do arise every now and then, and noise monitors have been given the duty to stroll around ensuring the noise remains at a respectable level, as residents nearby grow weary of the noise pollution when people amplify their music to compete with others. Once all the energy has been drained from simply observing the extravaganza, there are an array of seats
awaiting at the tea houses, where one can revitalise with a cup of tea in hand, or call on a nearby man
nd holding a dauntingly long ear-cleaning apparatus ready to rid your ears of any wax. The lazy afternoon activity is the perfect opportunity for further people watching. “Shaocheng Park”, as it was originally titled, was the first public park in the city. Opened in 1911, the park was built on the former grounds of a Qing imperial encampment. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, it was re-named in 1950 (to the current title), and underwent enlargement and refurbishment. A visit to such a park is not an act of escaping into the solitude of nature, but absorbing yourself in the quirky talents of others. The entertainment is derived from the random and unexpected encounters, which flourish in this lively environment. It is a contrasting experience to my childhood adventures spent wandering through the local greenery. Visiting a park in my hometown in Australia, usually involves packing the car with the essential sunscreen and snacks, as well as an over-excited dog whose boundless energy for life is let loose as soon as she touches the endless green grass awaiting at our destination. Enjoyment is found in the interactions with already well-acquainted friends and family, through sharing a picnic meal, kicking a soccer ball around, or playing games with the family dog. Perhaps next time I find myself at a park back home I will grab a speaker and welcome strangers to dance along to the music together.