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

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


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

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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And we're changing topics here. "Sex and the City," the TV show and recent movie, have loyal followings both here and abroad. When the series reached Beijing, one American woman living there was told she resembled the character Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker.

Anna Sophie Loewenberg did not dismiss the compliment; instead she embraced it. Loewenberg created an alter ego, Sufei. She's a single-minded single woman looking for love in the Chinese capital. She collected videos of her experiences online, calling them "Sexy Beijing," and she's become an Internet phenomenon. Now we'd like to welcome Loewenberg, a.k.a. Sufei, to the radio.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. ANNA SOPHIE LOEWENBERG: 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.

Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language).

Ms. LOEWENBERG: 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.

Unidentified Man: (Speaking foreign language)

Ms. LOEWENBERG: 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, like Mia(ph) and Mija(ph)

Do you think marriage is forever?

Unidentified Woman #1: I don't think so. I think two people get together and they just enjoy whatever they have. When the end is there, they should just both know that this is the end.

Unidentified Woman #2: Well, my parent's generation, we have a phrase (speaking foreign language) If you marry a rooster, you stay with rooster; marry a dog, stay with the dog. You know, it's unthinkable to get a divorce.

Ms. LOEWENBERG: Well, how do all these old Chinese roosters manage to stay together? I think I hear 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." Shun Ikwa(ph), in her perm and gold hoops, pulls me onto the dance floor. Her husband is dancing with someone else, but she's not jealous. Shun says that dancing makes them both healthy and happy. But wait, I hear a different beat taking over this dance party. A crew of middle-aged women in sweats and sneakers are running through their Mongolian dance moves. The leader has round spectacles on. She's been coming here for two years with her husband.

Unidentified Woman #3: (Speaking foreign language)

Ms. LOEWENBERG: 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'd like to see some hip-hop. Yeah, I would. Where did you learn that?

Unidentified Woman #4: (Speaking foreign language)

Ms. LOEWENBERG: On Chinese television, she says. Now, I got to see this.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. LOEWENBERG: 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.

For NPR News, this is Sufei in Beijing.

NORRIS: Sufei is the Chinese name taken by Anna Sophie Loewenberg. We'll have more Sexy Beijing dispatches in the coming weeks. And if you can't wait, you can see some of Loewenberg's video work at our Web site; that's at

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