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Retired woman finds new life in a bar

By Feng Zhiwei in Changsha and Chen Meiling | | Updated: 2021-02-01 15:12
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Dong Shuntao, 66, went viral on the internet recently, after a video showed her working as a DJ, managing the music in a bar in Changsha, Hunan province. The video received more than 2.9 million views and over 40,000 likes.

Netizens were impressed by her "unrestrained" and fashionable lifestyle, as she broke the stereotype of Chinese women in their 60s.

Dong was never a bar customer. She walked into one for the first time in July, still recovering from grief over the death of her husband early last year. The fiery, energetic atmosphere cheered her up. Over the next six months she learned how to be a DJ.

"While indulging myself in the music and successfully learning to follow the rhythm, I felt a sense of joy and achievement," she said, adding she also became confident about doing something new and challenging.

She retired in 2005 from her day job at a factory in Changsha and focused on her second job at night cooking stinky tofu on the street. She expanded the business of making the traditional snack and now has three stores.

Dong said she had no time at first to pursue her passions — singing and dancing. She's just too busy. But she has time now. As a DJ, she combines rock music with local nursery rhyme, folk songs and flower drum operas. 

Unlike most grandparents in China, Dong doesn't spend much time taking care of her four grandchildren. The family hired nannies. Dong said her family understands her.

Luo Ying, 39, Dong's daughter, said the family agreed that their mother should pursue whatever makes her happy.

Bars have reopened for normal business after the city reported no new cases of coronavirus infection during the recent sporadic outbreaks in China. Strict epidemic control measures are taken in the bar — body temperature measurement, disinfection and wearing masks, said Liu Yazhu, the manager. She said she was impressed by Dong's passion for music and agreed to let her have a try at being a DJ.

So far, so good.

Zhu Youfang in Changsha contributed to this story.

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