There’s always something going on at Lu Xun Park. Whether it’s disco dancing uncles, karaoke singing grandmas, or an impromptu gathering of the local Brass Blowers Anonymous group, it’s guaranteed to be noisy, and if crowds are not your thing, this definitely isn’t the place for you.
Named after the famous Chinese writer Lu Xun who lived nearby during the last years of his life, quite what he would have made of the chaos that descends on these few dozen acres every weekend, I wouldn’t like to guess. If it was quiet contemplation he was looking for, there would be little chance he’d find it here.
This was my first visit to Lu Xun Park, and though I’ve seen my fair share of Chinese parks in the last few years, I’ve never seen seen one quite like this. I knew it was one of Shanghai’s most popular, but the sheer variety of activities taking place – often, it seemed, in direct competition with one another – was quite staggering.
Almost as soon as I arrived I could hear these guys blowing away up ahead. They were just one of several ensembles dotted around the central square, and going by the size of the crowd that had gathered, these were the ones to watch. There were saxophones and clarinets at the front, trumpets and trombones behind, while a couple of aunties beat their tambourines and crashed their cymbals whilst standing at the back.
I can’t say I recognised any of the songs, but they played them pretty great nonetheless. And though it was hardly the Royal Philharmonic, that wasn’t really the point. Whatever limited opportunities exist in Shanghai for local musicians to get together and play, this was a group that clearly loved playing for the love of playing. The band were grooving, the conductor was all smiles, and by the appreciation being shown by those gathered round, a thoroughly good time was being had by all.