“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” ~ Ella Fitzgerald
One of the best ways to experience the city is to immerse yourself in the many public parks around Shanghai. There are small parks that accommodate a few chess games, body exercises and common assemblies of retired conversationalists. Larger parks like Lu Xun Park (鲁迅公园) contain a spectrum of activity that warms the heart and cheers the spirit.
Come late afternoon as the sun slides lazily into the early evening, tens of middle aged to the elderly would throng about in large groups in accordance to their indulgences. Some dance, others sing and most do both.
In the centre of Lu Xun Park, there is a large group that does the waltz, tango or cha-cha. Sometimes they dance en mass to a booming speaker that is owned by an accompanying cowboy on guitar. Other times, they surround an outstanding pair or two who twirl and move seamlessly in circles.
But almost all the time, everyone sings.
A few have songbooks that reveal old lyrics from the Communist era filled with patriotism but mostly of nostalgia. They blend into a harmony of voices – tenors mixed with sopranos that are supported by baritones. The more they sang, they more they smiled, some serene and others mile-wide with glee.
In that free space, they lose themselves to fresh air, swaying trees in balmy winds and amongst companions who have experienced life as much as the next person. Yet there was no need to talk about the past when you can share it in song in the present.