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Swing dancing at the Great Wall


dance at the great wall

Swing dancing enthusiasts from around the world are coming to Beijing for a three-day "swing festival" this weekend.

This is the fourth time the Swing Beijing club has organized the event, the Great Wall Swingout.

It consists of three nights of parties, workshops with international instructors, and dancing at the Great Wall at Mutianyu, all starting on Friday.

"We expect about 60 locals, which includes both Chinese and expats living here, and about 40 people flying here from overseas," said Valeria Tyapaeva, also known as Leru, an instructor with Swing Beijing.

Swing is a style of jazz that originated in the US early last century.

It finally reached the Chinese capital about seven years ago when a musician with the Beijing Big Band set up the Swing Beijing club.

This year is the first time that the event will feature three renowned swing dance instructors who will hold a series of workshops with participants.

Dancers from all over the world including the US, Russia, Sweden, Vietnam and South Korea have participated in the past swingouts in the Chinese capital.

A party will be held Friday night to mark the start of the festival, and an "Old Hollywood" theme party is scheduled for Saturday night, with guests dressing up as movie stars of the 1920s and 40s, and featuring the Beijing Big Band. On Sunday, participants will head to Mutianyu for a day of "fun and dancing."

Leru said the idea for the event originated five years ago when an American friend of hers who was returning to the US suggested that they hang out and dance on the Great Wall, as a sort of fare-well party.

People loved the idea and had a great time, and the gathering turned into an annual event.

They will be dancing near the Great Wall, but Leru hastened to add that they "won't be doing anything to endanger the wall."

Li Jie, 31, a member of the Swing Beijing club, went to last year's dance and is also planning to join this year. "It's great fun, very relaxing," said Li, "and it's all about dancing with people from different countries because they each have distinct styles."

In Asia, the popularity of swing dancing has increased over the past decade, with different swing dance events being held in countries including South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore every year.

"It's more about meeting people, dancing with different people and socializing. It's a social event," said Leru.

(Global Times, April 15, 2010)

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