The West Bund has become one of the most popular parks in Shanghai after heavy rounds of development in recent years. The stretch of green along the Huangpu River has a magical quality to it on Sunday afternoons, bustling with activity and crowded with people making the most of their last hours of weekend. The space has allowed for grassroots communities to flourish, among them acroyogis, slackliners, and skaters.
We arrived to the West Bund around 4pm last Sunday to check out the scene.
In the shaded grass are the acroyogis, who look like they belong at an outdoor festival, combining elements of yoga and acrobatics to mimic the feeling of flying.
Acroyoga has proven benefits for your mental and physical health. Everyone here seems to be glowing with positivity. Definitely no shortage of granola vibes.
“I love the idea that we all come here, and have this feeling of freedom — that anything is possible. When I started acroyoga I wasn’t exercising for years and it just activated a new part of myself.” — Fernanda, 32, from Brazil
“It’s fun to be here outside and play around with people, especially on a nice sunny day. It definitely beats being inside.” —Oliver, 24, from England
Anyone is welcome to join the acroyoga community. Show up on Sunday between 3-7pm to the patch of grass near the Adidas RunBase.
They say you can worry about WeChat later.
Situated right in front of acroyoga, the slackliners balance on thin flat webbing, an amateur circus act that starts late in the afternoon as the sun turns golden.
The "slackers" have been practicing in this space for about five years. Like acroyoga, they are out on summer afternoons from 3-7pm.
“It is challenging and it makes my mind go somewhere else. Kind of like meditation. Once you are on the line your mind is there 100%” —Cesar, 28, from Mexico
Everyone is at different levels but the community is welcoming. More experienced slackers teach newcomers.
No equipment necessary if you are new, and lines are set up for sharing.
Then there are the skaters just behind the Long Museum, delighting in wheelies and the freedom of the weekend.
Skaters of all levels are welcome, though it's mostly a Chinese student-aged crowd. Practice tricks and language skills. Two birds.
“I like to skate here because there are so many people, it’s simple. I come almost everyday because I am a student, so I have time. If I’m not skating here I’m at People’s Square.” —Ringa, 20, from China
All of these communities pride themselves on their openness. It's accepted practice to just walk up and join in. From there, they'll introduce you to others, add you to their WeChat communities and generally fold you into what they're doing. Peak hours from 4-6pm on the weekends.