Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Taipei famous places: Shih-Da University

Shih-Da University was of course famous for being one of Taiwan's best universities and also, if you wanted to study Chinese, somewhere you might end up going.
As the years went on the sports track became more famous for us than the university itself. In Taiwan all public university tracks were completely free to use by everyone in the evening so if you needed a jog just head down there.
The sports field was an amazing slice of Taiwanese life and attitudes to sport:
1) Old people briskly walking bare feet while continually stretching and shaking out limbs and pulling their grandchildren behind.
2) Young couples on a date in their Sunday Best clothes having a romantic walk.
3) Young women in fresh new tracksuits on their first jog because they went over 50Kg, who never came back because starving themselves was so much easier
4) And members of the Shih Da University sports club who never actually did anything but stretch and contemplate, trying to remember the exact moves they had studied the day before.
Otherwise, on the center and outer areas of the track young and old competed for space to dance.
Every 10 meters there was a different group of teenage girls and boys with their portable CD players, rigorously drilling their hip-hop and R’n’B moves so that might have a career which didn’t require any scholarly skills. The old people, who pioneered taking up public space in parks, were practicing dancing or Tai chi, and no doubt regretting going on those marches for democracy – All that sacrifice just to watch their grandchildren shaking their thighs to hip-hop.
The old people weren't going to easily lose their dominance of the great outdoors sports hall - Every night a group of about a 100 or so swayed their hips to Oh What an Atmosphere by Russ Abbott and Ache Breakie Heart among others; gently pushing back the young people to the outer corners of the field.
But I am not poking fun – it was an amazing atmosphere, made possible because all the parks and sport’s grounds weren’t the preserve of drug dealers after dark, and Taiwanese ability to relax and do their thing, fifty in a telephone box – because the more of them there were the more outgoing and confident they became.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is funny, I used to train Wing Chun at the Shida sports area and I always thought it was cool that these women in their fifties and sixties would spent the evening dancing in line to the music, instead of sitting in front of the TV like most people their age. Acky Breaky Heart was a bit hard to take but we did not have to pay rent. Thanks for reminding me.