Aerobics instructor Khing Hnin Wai routinely streams her dance aerobics workout from the streets of Myanmar’s capital city, Naypyidaw.
On Monday morning, she delivered her customary performance with absolute focus and upbeat energy, completely ignoring the military vehicles speeding behind her on their mission to overthrow the elected government of her country.
A woman did her regular aerobics class out in open without realizing that a coup was taking place in #Myanmar. A Military convoy reaching the parliament can be seen behind the woman as she performs aerobics. Incredible! pic.twitter.com/gRnQkMshDe
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) February 1, 2021
According to Al Jazeera News on Tuesday, the video has been viewed over 10 million times on various social media platforms over the past 24 hours. Some interpreted her video as a gesture of defiance or mockery toward the military junta, while others found a bit of levity on a dark day in her complete dedication to her craft while history unfolded in the background.
On her Facebook page, Khing Hnin Wai said she did not learn about the coup until after she finished her aerobics routine. She simply went to the same spot she often uses for her morning recordings and thought little of the army trucks rumbling behind her. The road in the background of her video is a 20-lane highway called Yaza Htarni Road that leads to the parliament building.
“As it isn’t uncommon for Naypyidaw to have an official convoy, I thought it’s normal so I continued,” she explained.
“I wasn’t dancing to mock or ridicule any organization or to be silly,” she insisted. “I was dancing for a fitness dance competition.”
The aerobics teacher said she was a bit nervous once she realized what was going on, but she was treated politely by the folks who were busy arresting the elected government while she busted her moves.
“As I was dancing, helicopters were going whirl-whirl-whirl, cars going vroom-vroom. With all the guns, I thought someone was aiming at me from a distance. The police chiefs were just smiling and looking at me, even asking me if I was going home and bid me farewell,” she wrote.
The post concluded with a request to stop spreading the video online. As of Tuesday morning, Khing Hnin Wai has refused all requests for interviews from international news media.
The L.A. Times suggested she might have thought the sirens blaring out of the security vehicles were part of the music she was dancing to, or perhaps she is simply accustomed to hearing sirens on the highway.
On the other hand, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) noted the lyrics of the song, called “Ampun Bang Jago,” concern “the power struggle between the people and the authorities.” The song is often played during protests against heavy-handed laws and police brutality:
The lyrics of Ampun Bang Jago, which can be translated as “I beg for mercy, champ”, are about bouncing back after an authority figure, or the jago, knocks you down.
“They are coming one by one, to fight over the throne. I don’t need to mention their names, they know who I’m referring to,” the song goes. “Let them think they’re the greatest, but we are the ones being recognised, so please keep working, even when you think it’s useless.”
The SCMP reported Khing Hnin Wai wrote her Tuesday post on Facebook to explain the video after “insults piled in from supporters of Myanmar’s military.” Evidently, both supporters and opponents of the junta interpreted the video as a political statement due to her choice of music.
“Well, the music and the background definitely complement each other,” she admitted on Facebook.