Dazi culture ( 搭子| dāzi literally meaning “tied-by-side” or just “activity partner” in Chinese) refers to China’s Gen Z seeking new ways to connect with others and share their hobbies. Time for Temper to explore this newest tantrum in the world of China Urban Culture.
China’s Gen Z is a generation that is known for its outgoing personalities and social interactions. They are always looking for new ways to connect with others and share their hobbies. And today, they’re doing so through online dazi socializing, or 搭子社交 (dāzi shèjiāo|“socialize with a partner”), where they can link up with partners who share their interests and hobbies.
These partners can range from foodie to fitness buddies to gossip cronies (seriously) to travel partners to mahjong allies to… You name it, they’re out there.
Many Gen Zs seek to find different like-minded peers to pursue shared interests rather than develop lasting friendships with.
Fast fact 1: When it comes to traveling together, for example, people are supposed to equally divide all the costs. Take note, this will come up again in a bit.
For many consumers, Chinese lifestyle guru slash e-commerce platform 小红书 (xiǎohóngshū| Little Red Book) is one of the top sites for tips on topics like beauty, fashion, travel, food and education. For others, the platform is a perfect place to post about one’s life experiences. And for a growing number of young people, the platform has evolved into something more — it is a place to look not for friends, but for dazi.
Unlike friendships, the concept of dazi is centered on temporary, almost superficial, companionship. The idea is simple—random individuals come together to partake in an activity they all enjoy. Very birds of a feather flock together. The objective is not to get to know one another better. The development of a friendship is nothing more than an added bonus, according to state media outlet China Daily. Whatever floats your boat, we suppose.
Those in the dazi scene generally agree that the trend is likely linked to two main factors. First, the Internet has made it incredibly easy for people to connect with one another. Second, young people, especially those still in school or fresh out of university, tend to have smaller social circles.
But dazi culture doesn’t come without risks…
A netizen by the name of “Xiao Wang” on May 4 told “Ten Points of Character,” a public account on WeChat—China’s ubiquitous super app that allows you to share, chat, pay, order, and whatnot, her tale of dazi woe.
After tying the knot with a travel partner she’d met on Little Red Book, the happily tied pair decided to take a trip to Changsha in Hunan Province, a city known for its love of spicy food.
Fast fact 2: “四川人不怕辣，长沙人怕不辣.” People from Sichuan, the southwestern Chinese province known for its tongue-tingling slash -numbing peppercorns, are not afraid of spicy food; people from Changsha are afraid their food isn’t spicy. It rhymes in Chinese. It’s kinda funny. Back on topic now…
Xiao Wang booked their accommodation and acquired high-speed rail tickets. But then her “date” decided to leave her for another activity partner and so there she was… Little Wang had to go on a wild goose chase to get everything refunded—which cost her more time than sorting out the original travel arrangements.
General safety, property disputes and fraud are the top three concerns among dazi netizens. Therefore, so-called dazi support groups, for example on Little Red Book, offer (obvious) words advice, including the following top three gems we uncovered whilst scouring the platform:
Videocall in advance and get to know each other;
Don’t ‘date’ too many partners at once;
If the other party is urgently urged [we’re going with the literal translation here], be wary.
And from Gen-Z travel dates, we move on to millennial playdates as it seems even people in their mid-30s have jumped on the bandwagon. China Daily interviewed Bu Yu, a 35-year-old Shanghai resident who decided to create a dazi group after discovering that many mothers were eager to have their children play together. After creating the group in late March, she organized a tour of the Shanghai Firefighting Museum in April together with other families that have children of similar ages.
More than 60 percent of young people in China find it difficult to socialize with others, mostly finding themselves at a loss when meeting people offline, a recent survey has concluded. China Youth Daily interviewed 2,000 people aged 18 to 35, 64 percent of whom said they feel “stuck” or freeze during social interactions.
Specifically, 27 percent of all those canvassed said they have problems with offline social activities, 17 percent said even online socializing is challenging for them, while 20 percent said both online and offline interactions are hard for them. #foodforthought
Fast fact 3: The dazi companion culture in China allegedly originated during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), an era known for its cultural and fashionable swag, when scholars and poets would gather to play dazi, originally a game of word puzzles. The game became popular among the literati of the time, who saw it as a way to exercise their wit and creativity. Yet as the decades went by, dazi evolved into a broader cultural phenomenon, with tea houses and other public places hosting full-fledged, and fierce, competitions. From all these social interactions the game entailed allegedly–yes, “allegedly” is the operative word du fast fact–sprouted the concept of dazi companionship, or the practice of finding a friend or companion with whom one can share interests, goals and values.
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