In Rural China, Some People Hire Strippers for Funeral Parties and the Government Wants Them to Stop

A stripper who is not at a funeral. Photo via Flickr user brh_images
A stripper who is not at a funeral. Photo via Flickr user brh_images

In death, as in life, there’s more than one way to throw a party. Some mourn the passing of a loved one with church hymns and prayer; others choose to celebrate their death with booze and disco balls. In rural China, some funeral parties are hiring strippers—and the Chinese government is not pleased.

The Chinese Ministry of Culture released a statement (this link, and some others, in Chinese) on Thursday detailing two recent cases of “obscene” funeral activity. The first happened at a funeral in Handan, where six performers were hired to perform a burlesque show. Photos from that funeral have already made the internet rounds, and show a woman dancing on a stripper pole before a crowd of mourners. In the second case, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, three women performed a striptease at the funeral of an old man. In both cases, the responsible parties were fined, but the Ministry plans to work with local police forces to further investigate and punish these “pornographic performances” going forward.

In case it’s not readily apparent, funeral stripteases are not traditionally part of the cultural fabric of China. But it’s not an entirely new phenomenon either. In 2006, state-sponsored China Central Television ran a primetime special about funerals in rural farming towns that used strippers “to attract larger crowds.” These performers sometimes showed up with snakes or invited men to take off their pants to join in on the festivities. After the CCT special aired, the practice was officially banned in China and the government apparently set up a 24-hour hotline for people to report these types of “funeral misdeeds.”

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Arielle Pardes

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