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Shopping mall hosts 'space-out' competition in China

By Xu Zhesheng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-04-18 22:58

A shopping mall in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, recently held a unique competition focused on relaxation — a "space-out" contest. Roughly 100 participants vied for the ultimate prize: the ability to unwind and do nothing.

The competition's rules were straightforward. Contestants could blink, breathe, and drink water, but were prohibited from swaying their bodies, sleeping, using their phones, chatting, or eating. The Powerlong shopping mall, the event organizer, clarified that participants could choose any comfortable posture.

Videos circulating online depict participants in various positions. Some sat cross-legged on yoga mats, while others opted to lie flat on their backs. A few even brought pillows, blankets, and dolls for added comfort. Spectators at the mall cheered on the persevering contestants.

Seven and half hours later, the top three winners were announced. The victor, a middle-aged man, claimed the 3,000 yuan ($410) grand prize. The second and third-place finishers received 2,000 yuan and 1,000 yuan, respectively.

When questioned about his winning strategy, the middle-aged champion revealed he wasn't driven by competition but simply wanted "a break."

The event sparked mixed reactions online. While some netizens found it amusing and wished for similar competitions in schools to allow students a day to unwind, others argued that turning "lying flat" — a cultural phenomenon associated with disengagement and apathy — into a competition misses the point.

This competition aligns with a growing trend across Asia in recent years. These events promote the art of doing nothing and embracing moments of stillness in an era saturated with digital information, where people yearn for a pause to recharge.

The first international "space-out" competition originated in Seoul, South Korea, in 2014. China followed suit later that year with its first competition held in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Similar events have since been held in various Chinese cities, including Chongqing, Wuxi (Jiangsu province), Shanghai, and Shanxi province.

In 2015, Beijing hosted the Second International Space-Out Competition, attracting 80 participants from diverse professions who competed in the art of doing absolutely nothing and maintaining a blank expression for two hours.

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