Top 3 hottest experiential trends among China’s Gen Z

Ever felt fed up with the daily grind or craved a total transformation? Xiaohongshu has your back. Each month, the Instagram-like platform is offering an antidote to boredom in the form of 10 fresh “lifestyle inspirations”, courtesy of its inventive Gen Z userbase. Drawn directly from trending hashtags on the platform, these recommendations range from arts and crafts ideas to fashion subcultures and everything in between. Here are our top picks from Xiaohongshu’s first-ever selection of “lifestyle inspirations”. Which one do you want to try?

Night schools are renewing disenfranchised young people’s zest for life

Learn a new skill at night school

Wine appreciation, relationship management, and Beijing opera performance are among the many skills on offer in the booming night schools of China’s metropolises. Data from Dianping and Meituan show searches for “night school” have recently jumped a staggering 980% compared with the same time last year. According to state media outlet the Global Times, night schools are renewing disenfranchised young people’s zest for life. “For the stressed-out urban youth, these schools promise self-cultivation, community bonding, and most importantly, a happy environment lacking in their regular workplace.” In this way, night schools are a proactive solution to burnout – or the Type A person’s answer to “lying flat”. 

They are also a chance for workers to shed self-limiting beliefs and inhabit a new, more confident version of themselves. One Xiaohongshu user called Martin, who took a class in the traditional Beijing comedy style xiangsheng, claims to have transformed into an extrovert as a result of his night school experience and is preparing to come back next term for a course in stand-up comedy. More curious minds are likely to follow in his footsteps, as the Xiaohongshu hashtag (#夜校) is already at over 8 million views and counting.

This low-effort and cosy experience appeals to many young Chinese people’s affinity for songchigan

Book a solo hotel stay and binge watch TV

At 35 million views, this hashtag (#原地度假) is by far the most popular of this month’s lifestyle inspirations, and it’s easy to see why. The suggestion translates to “spend your time off right where you are”, but Xiaohongshu takes this one step further by prescribing a hotel stay and a weekend-long TV binge. This suggestion is perfect for introverts and “lying flat” advocates, who may lack the desire or social battery to plunge into a completely unfamiliar group setting after a long, hard week at the office.

This low-effort and cosy experience appeals to many young Chinese people’s affinity for songchigan (松弛感), an internet buzzword that blew up this year in the wake of zero COVID chaos. Often translated as “chillax”, the term also evokes a sense of ease and being at peace with oneself. The opposite of the night school students, proponents of this lifestyle favour self-acceptance over self-improvement.

Like the buzzword “letting it rot”, old money style turns giving up into an art form

Forget “old money” – embrace “no money style”

Of the three picks, this one is perhaps the most niche, clocking in at only 600,000 views (#没钱风) so far. “No money style” is a tongue-in-cheek response to the explosion of “old money” in China’s fashion blogging space this year, which sees ordinary people seek tips and tricks on emulating the look of generational wealth, much as their Western peers do. This usually entails looking well put together while remaining understated and effortless (no gaudy designer logos or showy bling. And add a hint of smugness).

By contrast, “no money style” invites people to exaggerate their lack of funds. This could mean wearing baggy, mismatched clothes (think taking out the bins or popping to the supermarket – the more ripped and stained the better) or simply wearing your favourite outfit on repeat. Like the buzzword “letting it rot” or zombie-style graduation photos, “old money style” turns giving up into an art form. The term is totally open to interpretation, so the experience is about throwing away social pressures to look a certain way and adding your own spin on a viral discussion.