The Secret to Long-Lasting Love in Beijing: Dancing?

Anna Sophie Loewenberg

Anna Sophie Loewenberg has taken on an alter ego named "Sufei" to report on love in Beijing. Luke Mines hide caption

itoggle caption Luke Mines

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When the hit TV series Sex in the City reached Beijing, one American woman was promptly told she resembled the character "Carrie," played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Anna Sophie Loewenberg embraced the comparison. She created an alter ego:"Sufei," a single-minded single woman racing around the Chinese capital, looking for information about dating and romance. Her online videos of her experiences are called "Sexy Beijing." This is the first in a series of her work on NPR.

Everyone in this town who's over the age of 50 is rocking Jingshan Park with bamboo clappers, accordions, love songs and Chairman Mao anthems.

Couples are holding hands, and everyone is in love. Everyone — except for me.

I ask a gray-haired man who's holding hands with his wife how long they've been married. "Forty years," he says. Wow. It seems like couples from my generation are lucky if they can stay together 40 days. All my Chinese girlfriends are either divorced or still single.

I ask two friends if they think marriage is forever.

One refers to an old Chinese phrase: "If you marry a rooster, you stay with the rooster; if you marry a dog, you stay with the dog. It's just unthinkable to get a divorce."

So how do all of these old Chinese roosters manage to stay together?

I think I heard the answer calling out to me from Jingshan Park's dancing square. That's where this town's retirees get their boogie on.

Some couples are in matching outfits that I haven't seen since Saturday Night Fever. One, in her perm and gold hoops, pulls me onto the dance floor. Her husband is dancing with someone else, but she's not jealous.

But wait — I hear a different beat taking over this dance party. A crew of middle-aged women in sweats and sneakers is running through their Mongolian dance moves. The leader has round spectacles on. She's been coming here for two years with her husband. Today, she says, her old man brought not just his thermos of tea, but also the boombox.

Then the dance leader asks me if I would like to see some hip-hop. Yeah, I would. Where did you learn that? On Chinese television, she says. Now, I got to see this.

So, I'm learning — it really doesn't matter. Young, old, tango or hip-hip, staying in love is just about spending that quality time together.

This transcript contains minor edits for clarity.