Dancing Mother-In-Law

It has been already all over the news in the past years in China: The Dancing Granny Problem. Apparently there are more and more people doing their dancing routines during evening hours in Chinese cities and at the same time cause an annoyance for residents in those areas.The majority of these people is from my experience somewhere between 40 and 70 years and female. So it is no wonder that my dear mother-in-law belongs to this group of people.

MIL’s Dancing Group

My mother-in-law retired from her modeling career some 15 odd years ago and had ever since then too much time on her hands. Her favorite activities are shopping and sleeping as already mentioned here. However she has another hobby and I believe you guessed it already from the title of this article!


She started with dancing some short time after her retirement in some real classes. After few years she started one of the infamous Dancing Grannies groups and terrorizes Xi’ans city center ever since then on a daily basis. However there is one main difference which sets her group apart from most other groups: Real complicated folk dances.



You see, most of the groups are dancing to overly load music each evening and only use a very limited set of different moves/ steps. Through this anybody can learn the dance in no time and join the ever-growing dancing movement. With MIL’s group it is a bit different. Her group is much smaller and consists of perhaps 20-30 people and to learn even one dance can take up a whole month. Each evening they meet for at least 90 min and first revise some old dances they had already learned and then start with new dance step by step. And don’t be mistaken because with step by step I really mean it. There are barely any repetitions in these dances so each part has to be learned bit by bit. I have been watching these dancing practices already for some time and I am just amazed how these elderly women (and few men) can remember these different dances as they are in my opinion pretty complicated.


WeChatImage635499294954029948But there is one thing which is just to typical of my MIL and I just have to share this. Every time when we come over to watch her dance she usually just sits around with some friends, chats and eats snacks. Now, as soon as she sees us she of course greets us in a way that you expect we had been away for the past decade or so and then she gets in front of her group for the next dancing steps and shows how to do them properly. You might think it is just coincidence that she starts teaching the others when we arrive, perhaps she has some set timetable or similar, but no. We have watched sometimes the group from around the corner before we arrive and it is every single time the same thing: She just sits around, jokes with her friends while the rest of the group is trying to learn the new moves. Usually she is still dancing when we leave but as soon as we are around the corner it is again the same thing, she goes back to her friends to do basically nothing. I know I know, I am just too picky with my MIL’s behavior but it is just so like her, trying to show off or appear to be a very busy person.


Even though it appears that she is resting most of the time she is actually rather good when it comes to dancing. Her group participates sometimes in a few dancing events and she is usually the lead dancer. Not bad for a woman who views shopping and sleeping as her main activities in life.


Before I forget it, MIL is the only one of her Dancing Group who is wearing the dress properly resulting in that the stomach is showing as all others pull up their skirts more because they think that they will look shorter when they tummy is visible…what troubles those poor people have.


28 thoughts on “Dancing Mother-In-Law”

  1. Another great, humorous post!! I have to ask – Does your mother-in-law know about your blog?

    My husband and I actually had the ‘opportunity’ to see one of these dance groups practicing last Thursday night. It was hard not to notice these older women dancing like the pussycat dolls in the park – hips grinding, sexy bending, etc. Some of the stopped when they saw my husband and I passing but others upped the moves. So you should be thankful that your MIL is into performing folk dances. With that being said, most do it to social with their friends and exercise, so I think there is no harm in that if they aren’t disturbing anyone!

    1. Thankfully my mother-in-law doest not know (yet) about this blog ๐Ÿ™‚

      After your description I am really happy that she is doing some old folk dances etc, not these modern things. When I imagine these old ladies dancing in that way, oh no, I dont want to think any further :p

      But it is good that she and her friends are staying active. Here in Europe most elderly people dont do anything besides extreme tv watching as a sport…

      1. She could be flattered and happy that she is the topic of many of your posts. But, I think it is awesome they keep active. My mother-in-law does a lot of traveling with tour groups abroad (a lot of trips to China) which I think is great!!

      2. My own parents are very different again, my father is doing a lot of sports during summer time, such as bicycling (even compititions!) while my mother prefers the comfort of her sofa and her favorite tv shows for several hours a day…

  2. Haha, nothing says China these days more than old women dancing outside.

    This seems a cut above those typical scenes though. Good for your MIL to have a positive hobby!

  3. I love the dancing groups in the evening. It’s such a good form of exercise and really brings the city to life. Loved joining it once in awhile as well hahah… you’re not thinking of dancing on the streets?

  4. Hahaha, another hilarious post about the MIL. I thought tai-chi was the popular exercise in China, never heard of this dancing. The new in-thing, good way to keep fit, meet new people and stay busy. But for your MIL, it seems it’s a show-face thing, as you mentioned. Or maybe she knows the moves so well that she doesn’t need to practise as much – and she’s the lead dancer. Maybe her group does stop passer-bys in their tracks, maybe your MIL is living her dreams of being a popular celebrity this way ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. These kind of dancing things have been popular already for many years there. I was first time in China in 2011 and back then it was already an old thing but it is still growing.
      It is just crazy how many people are dancing to this loud music, next time I try to get some nice video material( somewhen next year). Usually I alsways had the bad luck that it was too dark for my video camera so now I have to hope to record it at a earlier time

      1. I’m sure your MIL has seen other similar dance groups around her neighbourhood in China. Maybe she should participate in some sort of dancing competition with her team. That way maybe she will really get up and dance all the time when your back is turned. From the photos, it looks like MIL’s dancing group does performances.

      2. Yes, few times a year she is performing in some events with her group. They extra decide on the dancing outfits months ahead, I have the feeling they spend more time on that rather than on dancing practice ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Haha, this was great! I love how older people dancing is kind of a form of public nuisance. Do they change costumes for each performance? I can imagine a hobby like that would get quite expensive if so.
    I fully applaud your MIL sitting around and snacking thoughใƒผprobably because that’s what I’d be doing! (Except without actually being good at the dancing part.)

  6. Haha doing this kind of thing suits your MIL! There are also a lot of dancing grannies in Suzhou but unfortunately very far from where I live, if not I would consider joining them now that I have a lot of free time.
    I took a few classes of folk dances when I was in Beijing and I even performed in the university, would your MIL allow me to join her group? ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. MIL would definitely take you into her group with open arms, not only because of dancing skills but also because you are a foreigner -> more fame for the group and with it even more face for her ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. I love the dancing grannies! I never understood the complaints- but maybe I just don’t have any overly loud groups near me. I once saw some doing a very complicated fan dance and it was just amazing… (I thought anyway haha!)

    1. Some people just get easily annoyed by anything. However in xi’an I know one huge group,with very loud music, I think they are around 200 elderly people dancing there.
      I think my mother-in-laws group also has some fan dances, at least I have seen them having those colorful fans in their equipment bag but I have never stayed long enough to see every single dance ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I can see from your MIL’s posture she must be a good dancer.

    It’s probably a good thing your MIL doesn’t know about this blog. (I wondered about that.)

    1. I must admit that my mother-in-law is a pretty good dancer. I think she also has generally a good posture due to so many years as a model.

      I wonder what she would think about my blog but I also have the feeling that she is secretly writing about me…

  9. Heheehe – Just catching up on the blogs we like to read and having a chuckle about this article. We would love to meet your MIL one day. She sounds rather entertaining.
    It is so cute that she is keeping active ๐Ÿ˜‰ (or should we say, social??).

  10. Just stumbled across your blog now, very amusing,

    BUT, I must say, the dancing ladies in any available space are one thing I adore about China. Elderly people are so active in the community, even in they are causing a ruckus, it’s better than a group of teenagers! I once watched a group of women dancing to that song “to the window.. to the WALL, and the sweat dripped off my ….” An interesting song choice.

    1. Thank you for reading my blog ๐Ÿ™‚
      Those women do have often some strange music…I am just happy that they do not know what those lyrics are otherwise they would not be so enthusiastic with the dancing anymore ๐Ÿ˜€

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