Saturday Night Under Bridges
You may be surprised by what you see down by the river and under the bridges, where the community gathers, sheltered from the heat and rain.
Under the neon-lit Jiangwan Bridge old women take part in communal dancing; there are make-shift badminton courts, busy public gym equipment and tiny, penned-in basketball courts.
Walk east along the river and there is an eclectic array of street shops: balloon popping with darts, porcelain cartoon character painting and the ubiquitous fruit sellers. Under the trees are more gym equipment including beams from which swing toned young men who smile warmly when you give them an appreciative ‘thumbs-up’.
Under the west side of the Dongxiao Road Bridge gathers a choir made of middle aged and older residents, including an accompanying orchestra with traditional string instruments. A man in grey trousers, a white shirt and a microphone conducts with authority, pointing to a sheet of black lyrics on an opened white scroll. Behind are many more scrolls ready to be sung. A man in the front row hammers and slices the rhythm in the air. At the end of one song a woman shouts out, “how are you, very well?” There is laughter, friendliness and contentment. The choir doesn’t seem to mind us watching. We Westerners are the show.
Under the east side the bridge is an open circular courtyard. Around a green-grey statue of two hugging people dance the more mobile local people. They are practising ballroom style dancing. Some dance alone, arms held high by their imaginary led. We watch for a while, forgetting the concrete, the traffic, the chesty air. Other local people watch, lost in their old world of soft humming or subtle dancing. A place to forget and remember. I’m MJF, this is Guangzhou and that’s 303 words.
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