Just Beat It! Popular Legacies of Cultural Revolution Music

  • Barbara Mittler
Part of the Chinese Literature and Culture in the World book series (CLCW)


Year 2003: A Chinese taxi driver is being asked whether he likes to sing. “Oh yes,” he does, and he especially likes to sing to himself when he is alone in his car. And has he heard of the model works yangbanxi)? Does he like to sing them, too? “Of course,” he has, and “of course,” he likes them, too, and in particular the one tune that he then proceeds to “teach” his clients: a song from one of the model works from the Cultural Revolution, the ballet The Red Detachment of Women. His clients, a group of youngsters in their twenties join in: they, too, as it turns out, know the tune quite well. Indeed, as they get out of the taxi a little later, they immediately begin a street break- dance, attracting many other youngsters to come and join them, and to dance to the sounds of The Red Detachment of Women. The scene ends in a “mass choreography” of synchronized dancers, Michael Jackson-style.


Popular Culture Chinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution Oral History Popular Music 
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© Barbara Mittler 2016

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  • Barbara Mittler

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