Seniors find themselves in pole position

Updated: 2013-08-10 02:19

By TIFFANY TAN (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

As far as mother-daughter projects go, it was an exceptional collaboration. For two weeks, Lin Mu helped her 54-year-old mother perfect the technique of dangling from a metal rod, in preparation for her parent's first appearance in a pole dancing competition.

Lin, a 29-year-old pole dance instructor in Beijing, came up with the idea after her mother started taking lessons in 2008. Ding Yi, her mother, had no hesitation, saying she is sharing her only child's passion.

Seniors find themselves in pole position

Ding Yi (right), 54, and her daughter Lin Mu, 29, perform on the sidelines of the Seventh China Pole Dance Championships in Beijing on Friday. Both took home a gold medal. ZHANG WEI / CHINA DAILY

Lin had already signed up for the Seventh China Pole Dance Championships' doubles category, which features two dancers on the same pole. They decided Ding would take part in an amateur group.

Ding, an office worker in Hengyang, a city in Hunan province, said: "My daughter lives far from me and she's always busy, so I couldn't be an active part of her life. Pole dancing has brought us closer together."

Li Li wishes she could say the same, but this 62-year-old grandmother is keeping her pole dancing a secret from her family.

Li began taking lessons early in 2012 as a "last resort" to improve her health. She had knee pain, a growth in her neck and cardiovascular problems, and said no other exercise or sport had helped.

So, every day after leaving her cleaning job at a mall in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, Li did two hours of pole dancing at a dance school.

After being encouraged by her teacher, Li decided to take part in the championships in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, not knowing she would be the oldest contestant. She told her husband and children she was visiting the Chinese capital for sightseeing.

Li said, "I didn't want to tell them, as pole dancing is quite new in China and people don't really understand it", adding that all the money she pays for her lessons comes from her salary.

Although pole dancing has become more popular nationwide as a form of exercise in recent years, many people still associate it with sleazy nightclubs. Sexagenarians gyrating around poles in knee-high, leather high-heeled boots become a target for criticism.

Last year, Sun Fengqing became the oldest person to take part in a national pole dancing competition, at the age of 60. The Nanjing resident became an instant Chinese media celebrity, but was scolded by one of her sons and an old friend.

But she shrugged off the criticism, saying her goal is to inspire other senior citizens to pursue their interests.

"If elderly people just take care of their grandchildren and perform housework, they can never experience the world outside their families," she said in an interview earlier this year.

"If we don't get a chance to enjoy something in our old age we didn't enjoy in our youth, then life doesn't hold much meaning. Life should be rich and colorful."

Sun will be happy to know that she inspired Li Li to join the national dance contest, where Li took home a gold medal in the amateur category.

Lin Mu and Ding Yi also won a gold medal each — not bad for a last-minute mother- and-child summer project.