Dancing in Kangding
by Lavinia & Christine
Kangding has a vibrant nightlife in the summertime. There are plenty of things to do! You’ll find a lot of people walking around town even after 8pm. In fact, Tibetan-style circle dancing attended by people of all ages starts in the town square around 7-8pm. To get to the town square, head down from Zhilam Hostel by taking a left on the road, and walk down until you see a fruit vendor. From there, take another left and you’ll pass the Kangding Hotel (currently being demolished!) and walk into the plaza area.
The music is very traditional with more slow-paced melodies to those with a more up-beat rhythm. Tibetan dancing is so beautiful to watch and also really fun to do! Everyone dances in a big group circle that continues to grow as more and more people join, and the dances steps are fairly easy to catch on to…but it is a little trickier than it seems at first!
The activities in the square are not limited to just dancing, in fact, you may have to move out of the way of young ones chasing one another on roller blades or others using the square as their training ground for walking. If you want to get your shoes shined, that service is also available.
Banner Waver in the Town Square
Others use this time to relax, choosing to watch the dancing instead. I encourage you to not be just an observer, but join in on the action. As a foreigner you no doubt will gather much attention, but the most important thing is to have fun! The first time I joined in, I was encouraged by my local friend to enjoy myself, not worrying about whether I did the steps correctly or not. I have especially enjoyed seeing all the different traditional clothes that are worn by the women, both Chinese and Tibetan. It adds another dimension of culture to the dancing and the experience.
Nothing gets in the way of dancing
Women in Traditional Dress
The second communal activity is a more structured Chinese-style dancing, which takes place in the Liuliu City square.
Xi-Kang Traditional Stage
This square also houses the Xi-Kang Traditional Stage where the live music accompaniment is usually situated. The dancing in this particular square is more formal and requiring a partner. However, even for the less experienced this activity can be enjoyable too!
Visitors to Kangding, myself included, are amazed by the number of participants in these activities. It is a time of sharing and participating in culture. Clearly, the citizens of Kangding enjoy and are proud participants.
In 2016 Lavinia Tanasa came and volunteered with us during the summer. She helped us with teaching our staff English, writing blog posts and editing an English training manual.