The Chinese Park Where Senior Citizens Go Looking for Love
In a country where wealth and divorce are increasingly common, older people are preparing for their leisurely retirements—by searching for spouses in a public park.
Edited by Keshia Badalge
“The first thing you have to understand about this place,” Fan Yuping says sternly, “is that it’s much more complicated than you imagine.”
Fan is sitting at a park on the south side of Beijing where a group of middle-aged and elderly folks often gather. They chat in groups, smiling, nodding; a handful in the middle of the circle even starts to dance. On the surface, it all seems rather quotidian. China’s public parks are havens of leisure, particularly for the post-retirement set. Those present today, however, are not simply here to get exercise or soak up the sunlight: They have come to find a date, or maybe more.
This spring afternoon at the Temple of Heaven park, rays of dappled light stream through poplar trees. Retirees congregate in a corner of the park: Some sit on short, retractable stools brought from home, others perch on newspapers spread out on the benches. There is perpetual music from a handheld speaker, along with the soft shuffling of shoe soles o…
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial