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'Thank you dances' for anti-pandemic workers go viral in China

Many netizens describe performances as self-indulgent, cringeworthy

Dancer performs for anti-pandemic workers. (Weibo, Li Shen-le photo)

Dancer performs for anti-pandemic workers. (Weibo, Li Shen-le photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As China continues to put millions of its citizens under lockdown in a renewed effort to “build an iron wall of epidemic control,” a new variety of viral content is spreading rapidly through its social media platforms: thank you dances.

Typically recorded at public COVID-19 testing stations, the videos feature Chinese citizens performing dances of gratitude for “big whites” (大白), as the country’s anti-pandemic workers have come to be affectionately known as, per WhatsonWeibo. The videos feature children and young adults alike performing both solo and choreographed group dances.

Reactions have been mixed on Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Douyin, with many netizens seeing the performances as unnecessary. Some have also criticized the performers as being disingenuous and doing it to promote their social media accounts.

Meanwhile, some commenters have said anti-pandemic workers need to rest and that this entertainment is tiring for them to watch. Others have expressed fear that by gathering together to watch the performances, people could inadvertently increase the chance of seeding a new cluster outbreak.

One particularly controversial and widely shared dance features a young woman in a red dress performing in front of workers lined up like soldiers at attention. Many have observed the workers look awkward watching the performer, and most comments describe it as cringeworthy and meaningless.

There has even been pushback from some “big whites.” One worker shot a selfie video berating parents who encourage their children to perform, telling them to send their kids home to focus on doing their homework instead.