Shall we dance? Song sheds light on tragedy from years past

Li Yi Wang Qingchu
"Mohe Ballroom," a hit song ranking No. 1 on almost all major music-streaming sites, tells the heartbreaking story of a widower dancing alone.
Li Yi Wang Qingchu
Shall we dance? Song sheds light on tragedy from years past

Zhang Dequan (center) dances alone at Mohe Ballroom.

"Mohe Ballroom," a hit song ranking No. 1 on almost all major music-streaming sites, tells the heartbreaking story of a widower dancing alone in an old-fashioned dance hall in a remote border city after losing his wife in one of the country's largest forest wildfires in history in Daxing'anling in northeast China 34 years ago.

The song which has garnered over 2.3 billion views was written and sung by independent musician Liu Shuang and released one year ago. It has suddenly become viral online.

"Maybe it somehow resonates with people's conservative view of love," Liu, who was also baffled by its sudden popularity, told The Beijing News.

The song that fits with people's ideas about eternal and loyal love has received over 50,000 comments on the NetEase Music Cloud. one of China's most popular music-streaming apps. On Douyin, Chinese version of TikTok, "Mohe Ballroom" is a hot topic, linked to 2.2 million related videos with over 1.8 billion views.

The song is dedicated to an old man named Zhang Dequan and his late wife, says Liu at the song's beginning.

Liu met Zhang in 2019 when Zhang was dancing alone in an old-fashioned dance hall in Mohe, located at the northern end of Heilongjiang Province and close to the dense forest Daxing'anling. Zhang said he lost his wife, a lover of dancing, in the horrific inferno which claimed 211 lives and injured 266 in 1987. They used to practice dancing often in the warehouse when she was alive.

Mohe Ballroom is located in Area 38 in Mohe, the northernmost city in China. The owner of the ballroom, named Baoge, posted a photo and a video taken on October 8 on his social media platforms.

The ballroom is currently closed due to the pandemic.

Shall we dance? Song sheds light on tragedy from years past
Li Yi / SHINE

Mohe is China's northernmost city in Heilongjiang Province.

Baoge said he met Zhang when the ballroom opened in early 2019. He came five or six times a week, dancing alone for more than an hour at a time. But the old man hasn't appeared in the past two years.

He wasn't aware of Zhang's story until the song became popular.

Liu said he learned of the catastrophic fire for the first time when Zhang told his story.

Shall we dance? Song sheds light on tragedy from years past

A picture of Mohe Ballroom posted by its owner, Baoge

Despite heavy casualties in the fire, many young people haven't heard of the disaster before learning about the song.

The fire on May 5, 1987, resulted from smaller fires caused by a forest worker's improper use of a machine and two other workers who were smoking.

After the incident, a memorial hall was built in the county to enhance people's fire prevention awareness, and May 6 was designated as "Fire Prevention Day" and May as "Fire Prevention Month" in Mohe.

Shall we dance? Song sheds light on tragedy from years past

A scene of the devastating fire is recreated in the memorial hall.

Lyrics of "Mohe Ballroom"

如果有时间
If you have time
你会来看一看我吧
Will you come to see me?
看大雪如何衰老的
See how snow grows old
我的眼睛如何融化
See how ice melts in my eyes
如果你看见我的话
If you see me and get astonished
请转过身去再惊讶
Don't let me see it
尘封入海吧
Let all be left to the sea
我从没有见过极光出现的村落
I've never seen the aurora in the village
也没有见过有人 在深夜放烟火
Or fireworks at midnight
晚星就像你的眼睛杀人又放火
The stars are like your eyes
你什么都没有说 野风惊扰我
But you say nothing, only the wind roaring
三千里 偶然见过你
Traveling 1,500 kilometers I found you
花园里 有裙翩舞起
Dancing in the garden
灯光底 抖落了晨曦
Under the spotlight, till dawn
在1980的漠河舞厅
In the Mohe Ballroom in 1980
如果有时间
If you have time
你会来看一看我吧
Will you come to see me?
看大雪如何衰老的
See how snow grows old
我的眼睛如何融化
See how ice melts in my eyes
如果你看见我的话
If you see me and get astonished
请转过身去再惊讶
Don't let me see it
我怕我的眼泪
I'm worn by my tears
我的白发像羞耻的笑话
And my gray hair
我从没有见过极光出现的村落
I've never seen the aurora in the village
也没有见过有人 在深夜放烟火
Or fireworks at midnight
晚星就像你的眼睛杀人又放火
The stars are like your eyes
你什么都没有说 野风惊扰我
But you say nothing, only the wind roaring
可是你 惹怒了神明
You enraged the heavens
让你去 还那么年轻
They took you, so young
都怪你 远山冷冰冰
You left me. I'm cold
在一个人的漠河舞厅
In a lonely Mohe Ballroom
如果有时间
If you have time
你会来看一看我吧
Will you come to see me?
看大雪如何衰老的
See how snow grows old
我的眼睛如何融化
See how ice melts in my eyes
如果你看见我的话
If you see me and get astonished
请转过身去再惊讶
Don't let me see it
我怕我的眼泪
I'm worn by my tears
我的白发像羞耻的笑话
And my gray hair
如果有一天
If one day
我的信念忽然倒塌
What I believe betrays me
城市的花园没有花
There will be no flowers in the garden
广播里的声音嘶哑
Only hoarse voice from the radio
如果真有这天的话
If that day comes
你会不会奔向我啊
Will you run toward me?
尘封入海吧
Let all be left to the sea
尘封入海吧

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