So, we're already well into 2012 and the question is: have you meaning to be more active and creative in Beijing this year? Has a voice in the back of your brain been (unsuccessfully) urging you to attend more workshop and social gatherings? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then this article may just be the kick that you need. There's a whole bunch of exciting stuff happening in the capital, from crafts groups, to cooking courses to improv classes. If it's ideas or encouragement you're lacking, let this round-up be your inspiration!
1) Knitting and socializing
The reason these two go hand in hand is because two of Beijing's leading knitting and crafts groups combine precisely these two things – without one, the other wouldn't exist. The Beijing Guild (formerly known as Beyond Knitting) is probably Beijing's longest running group. Founded by Ester Gomez – who has since moved away – this diverse group of knitters meets every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at various locations in Beijing. Besides offering a relaxed atmosphere in which to mingle and knit, this group also donates many of its creations to the Bethel Charity Store in Shunyi. More information can be found on their website, www.beijingguild.com.
Another active contender in Beijing's crafts scene is Stitch n' Bitch. Debating the problems of the world over a good cup of coffee is as much part of the agenda as is transforming a ball of yarn into something pretty. The group currently meets every Wednesday at Biteapitta from 18:00-22:00 or Thursdays at Jamaica Blue from 09:00-12:00. Make sure to check out their yahoo group here for schedule changes and additional info.
2) Chinese calligraphy, Mahjong and tea workshops
Culture Yard offers a wide range of workshops and classes to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of Chinese language and culture. Refine your knowledge of Chinese tea and the art of brewing the perfect cuppa, learn how to play mahjong in just two sessions, or pick up a calligraphy brush and learn not only how to write your own script, but get a deeper understanding of calligraphy's profound history. Classes are taught by an international team of Chinese culture enthusiasts in a beautiful courtyard building. For more info visit their website, www.cultureyard.net.
Another place offering courses related to Chinese culture is the China Culture Center, who also offer courses in Chinese tea, mahjong, chess, Chinese cuisine, TCM, Chinese language and more (www.chinaculturecenter.org)
If you're one of the many people growing increasingly concerned about food safety in restaurants, why not learn how to make your favourite Chinese dishes from the comforts of your home? There's no shortage of great cooking schools specifically tailored towards foreigners in this city. The Hutong Kitchen is an ever popular choice thanks to its idyllic location in a traditional courtyard building, and the diverse range of dishes and cuisines taught there. Check out their website for more info: http://thehutong.com.
Other popular expat-friendly cooking schools in Beijing include Black Sesame Kitchen (www.blacksesamekitchen.com), Hutong Cuisine (www.hutongcuisine.com) and The Fig Tree (www.thefigtree.cn).
If you've ever dreamed of becoming an actor but never "acted" on your dreams, then it's never too late to start. There are a number of playhouses and improv groups in Beijing, who welcome newcomers with open arms, no matter your age or background. Beijing Improv offers free bilingual workshops for anyone willing to get in on the action. The group also puts on several non-scripted shows per year. Find out more at www.beijingimprov.org.
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Keywords: Workshops in Beijing knitting groups Beijing improv classes Beijing fun classes Beijing cooking classes Beijing
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