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A device that can apparently be used to turn off stereos has gone viral on the Chinese internet for its potential use to fight square dancing annoyances. Photo: Handout

China’s dancing grannies: ‘stun gun’ claims to solve square dancing dilemma by sabotaging the music

  • The device looks like a flashlight and can be used from a distance of between 50 to 80 metres
  • Dancing grannies are an important form of exercise and social activity for older Chinese people, but are also a source of public annoyance

China’s infamous dancing grannies gather at all hours of the day, often first thing in the morning or when the neighbourhood begins to sleep.

The groups of mostly older women, dancing in unison to Chinese music, are simultaneously a valuable social activity in modern society but also a nuisance to many others, who often complain about excessive noise pollution from groups that sometimes try to “outdance” each other.

Now, a new product available on China’s internet offers a solution; a “stun gun” that claims it can sabotage the stereos used by the square dancers. It acts as an all-in-one remote control that does not necessarily need to be paired to a specific device.

The device looks like a flashlight but is compared online to a strong remote control. Photo: Weibo

In a video going viral on Weibo, a man from Jiangxi province in eastern China simply points the remote, which looks like a flashlight, at a speaker box to sabotage the music. The neighbourhood then gets to enjoy a brief moment of silence when the women investigate why their speaker suddenly stopped working.

Website cnBeta reported that the device could be used from a distance of between 50 to 80 metres. In the viral video, a person is seen pointing the device at two groups of grannies from a nearby housing complex.

As one person wrote on Weibo, the distance “gives people an escape plan” to avoid the wrath of the grannies, who are often called damas – a rude word in Chinese for middle-aged women.

Another person on Weibo wrote: “There is definitely a market for this thing and I want to buy one to play with. How much does one cost?”

What’s On Weibo, a site that tracks Weibo trends, found dozens of examples of “anti-square dancing devices” on Taobao that sold for around 250 yuan (US$39).


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People complaining about the nuisance of square dancing is almost as much of a tradition as square dancing itself. In 2019 in Hong Kong, the dancing grannies were banned from a neighbourhood in Tuen Mun, near the airport, after residents protested against noise pollution.
In Shanghai, a group is trying to popularise a “silent disco” version of the activity.
Square dancing troupes can be found in most major cities across China. Photo: SCMP

According to the Post, square dancing has its roots in the Cultural Revolution, particularly the great link-up of 1965 and the educated youth campaign in 1969. The damas are of middle age because square dancing links back to these moments of their youth when collectivism was an important social value in China.

Dancing grannies do not simply gather once a day and then go about their days; they often do everything together, from shopping to travelling – even buying property together.

In 2013, a massive group of damas bought 300 tonnes of gold worth 100 billion yuan (US$12.7 billion in 2013) after the price plummeted.