:: online communities in China can link people together based on common interests. Sometimes, these interests are located online — gaming, net lit, online video, tech — but often times people are involved in offline pursuits that they wish to share with their netizen friends. Some communities / discussion forums are national in nature and connect people from across the country. Others are more locally-focused and serve as online outposts of a groups that meet frequently in the real world. Although each of the following activities takes place offline, practitioners meet online to plan events, share videos, seek help with techniques, or shoot the breeze with other people interested in the same thing.
Parkour and the art of free-running, which started in the 80s actually, has exploded in popularity worldwide over the past few years, and China is no exception. The Parkour and Free Running Training website offers background information on the sport as well as space for traceurs to share their experiences. These include photos of interesting moves and videos of stunts (here’s Guangzhou’s “city spanker” club). Some videos attempt to work parkour into a narrative, like the 20-minute “I’m not a solitary hero” (我不是独行侠), the story of how one parkour team was formed. A Douban group for parkour enthusiasts recommends the Paoku.com.cn website. Individual local teams sometimes have their own websites. City Monkey, a Beijing-based team of traceurs and one of the forces behind Paoku.com.cn, keeps track of its activities on a website and a blog. The group’s updates are infrequent, but it has received a fair amount of local media coverage as parkour has entered the public consciousness over the past year. Other teams are listed on the LeParkour website, which includes groups in Wuhan (C-traceur) and Xi’an (Freefly). For more information (and lots of Parkour videos) see an earlier post I did on fifty 5.
Biking has a huge online presence in China. Most online biking communities are BBS-style discussion forums, although a few sites, like Qixingquan, have attempted to build a Web2.0 SNS community out of bikers, to limited success. ChinaBike (车友论坛), whose full name is “China Bicycle Enthusiast Net,” is a typical BBS aimed at bicyclists. The most popular sub-boards are those devoted to road and mountain bikes, which mostly consists of technical issues, and a marketplace for second-hand bikes ( ). The site is quite active, garnering several thousand comments a day, and it has a huge list of links to a wealth of other cycling websites at the bottom of the home page. Many of those sites are local forums, and university clubs are particularly common. PKU has a bike club, the Cycling Association of Peking University, whose online presence accompanies an offline organization founded in 1995. The site exists to organize bike hikes, share information, and connect student bicyclists with each other. More generally, Qiche8 is a BBS aimed at college student bicyclists across the country, and has sub-forums for schools in various regions. Within the scope of bicycling, BMX (小轮车) is the focus of quite a few community forums. China BMX is one major clearinghouse for BMX-related information. showing off their members who have made the covers of BMX-related magazines. Nukebike is a general forum for BMX, street bike, and dirt bike exploits, but similar to parkour, biking is an activity pursued by local clubs across the country, many of whom have their own online presence. A BMX club in Wuhan keeps a blog on Blogbus which hosts some striking action photographs and multiple-exposure images of jumps. Enthusiasts often post videos of their skills to various video hosts. Here, Yang Mingkai (杨明凯), a twenty-something BMXer in Beijing, shows off to the sound of the Beastie Boys on a sidewalk, and in competition.
Kickerclub (ignore the unfortunate logo), is a bilingual website devoted to skateboarding exploits in China. According to the about page, Kickerclub was founded in 2001 by a skater from Qingdao who was studying in Xi’an at the time, and is now working in skateboard-related merchandising. The site features skateboard tutorials, products for sale, and videos of skateboarders in China and around the world. There’s an associated Douban group where members post photos of activities and skate-ups in various cities. The latest was a meet-up in Chengdu for World Skateboard Day on June 21. Another Douban group, Skate, provides a helpful bilingual list of skate lingo, which is fairly fluid, as the three renderings of “ollie” illustrates (翱骊, 豚跳, 带板腾空). China Skateboards is a clearinghouse for skateboard-related information and announcements. These include photos of events, such as recent meet-ups in Nanjing and Shijiazhuang. The website has a channel on Youku where it posts videos, mostly of foreign skateboarders, but occasionally of locals. SkateHere, a product-oriented skateboarding website, hosts blogs from some well-known names in the field. Along fashion lines, it has a tons of photos from the launch of Nike’s SB line of skateboard shoes; a promotional video of the shoes has been pretty big this year, and features Tiananmen and other recognizable Beijing locales.
Break dancing, called “street dancing” (街舞) and Pili wu (霹雳舞) in Chinese has a fairly large online presence. Breakdance China is an collaborative blog that aims to provide information to China’s breakdance enthusiasts. Blog posts are frequent – several per day – and include announcements of upcoming events, photos of recent events, videos of dancing, and complaints about “kids these days.” The website is also host to the Quanzhou Middle School Break Dance Hiphop forum, a community for “Ha.5 Club” breakdancers from Fujian. Breakdance China links to 52 Breaking, a BBS forum for breakdancing fans. The most active sub-board is devoted to teaching techniques. Techniques are also the predominant focus of the active Baidu Postbar on breakdancing, which at the time of writing claims 2,780 members and 55,759 topics. One classic post is instructional and uses videos that mix popular music videos and actual break dance (for example). The BBS Hiphop City, whose URL can be interpreted to mean “I want to dance, dance, dance!” is a forum for all kinds of hiphop dancing, divided by city. The website is inclusive of other interests associated with hiphop dancing and urban / street culture: it has sub-forums for graffiti, MCing, and DJing. Current top stories are mostly in memory of Michael Jackson. Latin dancing is another up-and-coming activity, but because it’s organized a little less organically than breakdancing, online communities are more oriented toward formal training: people posting to the Douban group are largely looking for instructors or training centers, and a lot of websites are hosted by studios rather than community or discussion forums hosted by groups of enthusiasts. There are abundant instructional resources on China’s video hosts (example).
rock climbing ::
China Outdoor Information Center (户外资料网), a widely used website for outdoor activities has extensive information on alternative sports, including climbing. The social networking site hosts groups ranging from mountain climbing to rock climbing, and includes photo albums of indoor and outdoor climbing experiences. China Climber, a Beijing-based forum aimed at a national audience (including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau), has a sub-board where members can share stories of their climbs. Many local climbing groups host their own websites. LS Climbing is a Shaanxi-based forum associated with the Xi’an Rock Climbing Fund, an organization devoted to developing destinations for rock climbers. The Xi’an version is inspired by a similar organization in Shanghai, which is affiliated with the Rock Lizard BBS. A Baidu Postbar on rock climbing has a fair amount of traffic and covers climbing walls as well as outdoor excursions. And of course no sport would be complete without photos of sexy models pretending to take part.
[Friday 5 is the product of my work at Edelman Digital (China). Link here for the full Friday 5 archive. If you'd like to be added to the bilingual (English & Chinese) Friday 5 email distribution list, please send me an email at: adam DOT schokora AT edelman DOT com.]