Monday, February 29, 2016

Homemade Chinese Goodies, banquets, and more :)

Hi all!! These are pictures of some homemade chinese goodies below.

Below is an image of the street vendor at the corner of Harrison Ave on the 14th. I also dropped by the cultural village inside the bank across the street but didn't get enough time to take pictures since I was on cymbal duty that day.

But the next topic of this blog is banquets! I have been working on stuff for a banquet so here we go. 

The main thing that comes to mind is getting the prizes for the fun... This last image is my mom's friend that won a lucky pineapple at a banquet last month. I don't really know why this is but, it seems that businesses are more welcoming this time around than any other time of year.

I really hope this encourages people to go to some really cool banquets that take place in Greater Boston and I hope you enjoyed this :3

Hilarious Politics and my own Cowardice

You know I spend a lot of time calling people out or calling Chinese culture out for it's or their weaknesses, but I share most of those same weaknesses. I'm so afraid to write so much stuff on this blog because I am afraid of what might happen. But Forget that.
I'm sick of it.

What I'm going to do instead is go ahead and write it, but I will try to cover the story from multiple angles. I mean I'm not going to try and make some really look bad though. I'm not going to try and be mean or vindictive or like some sort of blogger terrorist. I will try to be respectful.

Err not exactly respectful in terms of being polite. But more measured in intent. I mean I'm going to try and see everyone's point of view.

Here is something I just got wind of. It's just too funny to me.

Wing Kay Leung and Michael Wong had told me after their team, lost the CCBA election, "You wait and see what happens." There were a few predictions but one of them that I thought was sort of... never going to happen just because of the smallness of it was this.

The first thing to go will be Kung Fu Federation because Simon Chan voted against them.

HAhA! That's actually happening right now. Breaking news if you actually care. Which a majority of Chinatown doesn't because a majority of Chinatown is WHITE and could give a two hoots about this. Being a lowly white in some ways is still better than being a powerful Chinese.

Anyway, it seems like Simon Chan is going to get raked over the coals. Am I buddies with Simon? Actually no he sort of creeps me out. That's just a prejudice of mine when people like to lean real close and whisper something to you. I don't really know him.

My problem is this.

If you can rule with an Iron Fist I respect that. That's tough. I fear you. And if you're consistent I even respect you. I have kids. I discipline them. I get mad at them too.

But if you do that, you have to be able to cancel parade's bam! like that with an Iron fist when it is in the community's interest. If you're hard with us kids, you have to be hard with the higher ups.

What would I do as  CCBA president? I'm still trying to figure out what I should do as a Chinatown Blogger. I've been quiet and subversive about stuff for 15 years.. and I can see signs of similar stuff happening that rub me the wrong way. I'm not talking as a member of a Kung Fu School or even as a member of Chinatown's community. I'm talking about myself. Waht is it? This is one example. Another is  heroin needles in playgrounds... which reminds me I have to start that Street sweeping thing next week. Now I'll work with anyone and for anyone. but I'm not going to be as quiet as I have been.

 But I'm sure there is another side to this story. Paul Chan said he would give me an interview.. but I doubt we will talk about this. For his interview I aim to make him look good. He has a really interesting story. Born and raised in Hong Kong, he went to Taiwan and joined the army there. There are aspects of him that are tough and awesome. He is also really approachable.... but this stuff? Maybe there is a good explanation. But as I have heard over and over, Chinese can be their own worst enemey.

Nah it's not that though.

I've heard people complain about Chinatown politics and get all stressed out to the point where I can tell it's bad for their health. I have a cure for that. It's St. Patrick's day season right? Maybe that's why I'm feeling and writing particularly Irish today. But if you feel bad about Chinatown Politics, just go listen to some Irish Rebel songs and then some Orangeman songs on youtube, and then read the comments and read that history of white people killing each other over differences which will have Chinese who can't tell the difference between Brits and Irish to begin with scratching their heads. You will feel a lot better trust me.

Am I afraid about who will read this blog?

Nah this blog post has no pictures. Ain't nobody reading this post.. except Paul Chan, because I'm sending it to him. I'm  frustrated. But I ain't picking sides.. because in the end. I'M WHITE!
I don't need this... I just find the stories interesting. I don't need to live like my Chinese Father did...

Did I go to far? Let me know. I won't take anything down. But I do encourage you to push me back in the comments. And I will rely on the POSITIVE posts of other contributors to balance out this crazy rant. I did not ask them to be contributors because they share my worldview. I'm pretty sure we have huge differences of opinion.

Please cut me down to size and show me why I am wrong and restore my faith in Chinatownness.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Eyes are opened wide from a Dinner with a Master

Last night I went to Asian Garden to meet with a Master, not only in Martial Arts, but in film making. He he had come to Boston around 1975 and left to get into the Hong Kong film industry in 1983 or so with Donnie Yen. His name is Mandy Chan.

"I've been all over the world and I've seen a lot... let me tell you, there are a lot of Dragon pearls and Dragons that have been spit out by Boston.. that have been a strong Dragon crossing the river. Don't even talk about Donnie Yen first... there a ton of people you haven't even heard of. Like John Tsang the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong.. he came out of here too! Did you know that?"

It turns out, there is a lot I don't know. Through that dinner conversation my eyes were opened to how much I didn't know about Chinatown, Kung Fu, Film Making, and hell even myself. That's why you should never be caught up in an idea that you know all there is. There is always a lot more to learn. You just have to come at it from a different angle. Mandy is an artist. And an artist will spit out 20 different angles you can come at something in one sentence. I'm still processing.

"Media is very powerful..You know Tiananmen square? When you see some of those photos, they recently let out the wide angle shot of those photos. The photo you see is someone's foot right in their face, but from the wide angle shot, the person with the foot in their face is holding a knife. That tells a completely different story doesn't it! Even if you are there taking pictures of the same event its how you tell that event."

"I'm telling you I have seen some crazy shit. Go home and look up what year Mao died." (It was 1976) "I was in China in this small inland village in 1989 a few months after Tiananmen Square. This village didn't have any communication with the outside world. Just one small radio. Most places didn't even have electric lights. The old people would come up to me and ask, 'How is Chairman Mao doing these days'" Holy shit. Now of course everyone's heard stories like this. Some places in the states where the black people did not know that slavery had ended because they were kept isolated. But I do get the sense that to know something or really understand it is different than just having heard of it.

"I don't believe anything the media is telling me. You can't. Because even if they are really covering the story, a picture can tell so many different stories."

Some of the stories were about Boston too. Mandy had gone to a bilingual school in the North End, the Michaelangelo.

"Nixon.... I remember I was little I didn't know what was going on.. but I heard what the adults said.The teachers were really mad. I mean they felt like they'd personally been screwed."

I began to see how shaped we are by our generation.

"So like you asked me about what I feel about that Fishball revolution?" He shrugged, "I don't know, because I'm not there. But I can tell you this. Let's go to the source first. Those kids protesting how old are they? 20's? When did Hong Kong go back to China? 1997. So how many years ago was that?
Now who was in Hong Kong before 97? What kind of people? What did they do when it was going back to China? A lot of them.. if they want freedom, go to America. That's your number one choice. But hey that costs money. $500,000.00 okay no problem go. You don't have that much? Okay Canada, $300,000.00 Still not enough money? Australia. Singapore. Phillipines, anywhere. So who stays? Either you don't have enough money or... you are so pissed of and stubborn, you stay and fight."

"Now after 1997, who came down to Hong Kong? Not just anyone from China. You have to have money to go in. You don't wait in line, you bribe your way in. People from China you are rich and want to raise their kids. They tell their kids that Hong Kong is the best, about freedom. Now those kids are raised, being told about freedom and Hong Kong everyday.. 20 years later.. now you have these protests, you see?"

"Let me ask you, I don't know anything about this situation, but I know that Hong Kong is now back t China. It's 2016. Do you think that in 2047 you will even hear the name of Hong Kong anymore? How about Shenzhen... expanded? Dung! Did you think about that?"

I hadn't. Mandy explained that sometimes he would no a person and they would say a few words and he would realize... that's why they are sitting there in the position they are in.

"I had the opportunity to have dinner in Europe with this Producer. He was my idol. He would show up to work and drink Cognac everyday. But let me tell you there was a reason why he was the producer. I had the opportunity to eat dinner in Europe. I say Europe because we were in Yugoslavia, which doesn't exist anymore. It was me, the producer, and a bunch of young Yugoslvian people. And I got the sense that these people were very well educated. It felt like just to get through high school they needed to know 6 pr 7 languages and not only the history of their country, but everyone elses. So when they see you, they don't see, 'Hey a China man!" and run scared or something They know your whole history. So anyway, they were talking this and that and saying all these things about Hong Kong about that. And they were pissing of the Producer. But he just said a few words... and shut them up.

You see over there the streets are very clean because at 5:00pm every day they wash it... everyday. So whatever they were saying about Hong Kong, the producer said, 'Oh yeah, you have a water shortage, and you are washing the street every day with Drinking water." Boom. silence. It was amazing. Before that the whole table of young students had a lot to say but after that... silence. I was like, 'Oh shit.'

Then he turns to one guy and says, "How much do you make a year?" he started to say something but the producer waved his hand, "You don't have to tell me how much you make a year. I can go to the market and buy a bag of vegetables and know how much you make in a year."


That's why he's the producer! He's never been to Yugoslavia. He didn't read about their history in a book. But he's been around. He's seen s much shit. You can't pull stuff with him."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Kung Fu Dad: Community Relations

Kung Fu Dad: Community Relations: Everyone had been talking about Beyonce this and Black Panthers that. I have friends that are on both sides of this conversation. I have fri...

This link only really relates to Chinatown in the way that I am trying to do stuff with Kung Fu all over Boston.. including Chinatown. I have reached out to schools Task forces, churches and police stations. I only got a few hits back so far and that was First Baptist Church and now JQS. In Chinatown, the groups that I would like to bring together through Kung Fu would not so much be Police and the community (frankly I don't think there is a disconnect there because Crime Watch was what finihsed what was left of that bridge to build. Culturally the Chinese have been much more tactful about how to approach these political matters. I mark it down to the 36 strategies.)

The groups I would like to build bridges between would actually be elderly, youth, and people who live in Chinatown but are seen as "gentrifiers." This is where the biggest disconnect or mistrust or standoff-ishness is. It's not antagonistic...but there is something there that would be well to smooth out. Put the groups together in the same Kung Fu class and you've done something small that can lead to something big.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Linc Ma's Photos

Here are some Photos  from Linc Ma, before the festival started. I know the parade is over, but there will a lot of pretty pictures and it's nice to have them shared somewhere.
Here I am talking to Donald Wong, who I hope to be interviewing soon. 

Okay I guess it is weird that I just shared a bunch of pictures of myself. But hey this is my blog right? And Linc will be sharing other stuff in the future. It's just that I notice that the photos that I take... well I'm no photographer. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chinese New Year Parade with Woo Ching White Crane

So here's how the parade was for us. I realize it would have been nice to get some footage of us eating afterward.. but oh well.

Getting Ready for the Chinese New Year parade

A lot of people go to see the parade. But what about the set up for it? Behind the scenes and all that?

Take a look at some clips. Sorry I didn't get everyone in here. There were some great candid moments but I missed them and I am still very fumbly with my video editing. I am a child scribbling drawings and still working on it.

Still want to make that movie though. It will be fun to do pre set scenes.

New Kung Fu Class in Chinatown

I'm going to be teaching a new class in Chinatown starting on Saturday  March 5th. The class will be in the Josiah Quincy school weight room. It's going to be a lot like my 1st Baptist Church class... except it's going to be open to kids too.

Basically it's an intro to Kung Fu class. We'll start with some meditation, Do some basics, do some slow Tai Chi like stuff for rest, maybe do some push hands, and end with a story/form cultural tid but about Chinese Kung Fu. The class is from 1-1:45 so it will only be 45 minutes.

And the price is going to be $60 for 3 months, or 12 weeks. Because I'm making it so cheap, I'm going to be hard lined about that price.  I'm pretty excited about doing this class and I'm going to make Noah a big part of it. I've had Noah in my classes before, but this time I plan to have him take more of a role as teacher. We'll see how that works.

I honestly don't expect a huge turnout, but that's okay. I hope to make connections and really teach people so that at the end, they'll have the basic concepts of Kung Fu down, so that no matter what they choose to study in the future, they'll have that foundation.

The truth  is even if you are a master at Kung Fu you will still like this class. Because it will force you to do basics in a group. And if you don't do white crane, you may not have basics that force you to turn your waist. And turning your waist just feels good. It puts you in alignment.

And the price is so inexpensive. I'm only making it three months because that is the length of time of a sports season. It's enough to get you into shape and give you that feel for the art, where you know how to practice on your own afterward. But at the same time it's not like you are signing up for 2 years. There is a beginning and an end to the class. Is there still more to learn? Of course. But I think we like to set a small doable goal in our society.

If you have kids you can bring them too. So it's not like you have to choose between doing something for yourself and something for the kids. But the class is not going to be "Let's pay fishy fishy cross my ocean" so much. I have done a lot of kids class that try to coax the children into participating. But the thing is, I know all these guys from China who just sat in the back and watched while My Sifu taight the men of the village. So they thought they had never done Kung Fu before. But, because they had watched the moves, and then played with them on their own, they did know Kung Fu. And when i showed them something as adults, they just picked it up so easily.

All that without copy claps or games or a lot of the bells and whistles you see in the modern American class. Don't get me wrong. I do that stuff in my preschool classes. Wheels on the Kung Fu bus and all that. But c'mon, you think the old way doesn't work too?

But mostly I'm excited because this is going to give me another thing to blog about.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Focalchinese Music

I saw this post on Facebook by Focal Chinese Music, and I liked the pictures. So I am sharing it on the blog.

(Originally posted to Facebook Posted by Jean Foo Laoshi)
Thank you to our friends from Woo Ching White Crane for the lion dance blessings and fire cracker lighting at Focalchinesemusic Corp Headquarters in Boston Chinatown this morning! Thank you to Dr. Robert Fremeau for the corsage. Thank you to everyone who came out today. It was nice seeing a great crowd of 500 at our lion dance show!

Lunar New Year at City Hall with Michelle Wu

I believe this is the first time that we have a Lunar New Year event at Boston's City Hall, and it is definitely thanks to Michelle Wu, who is President of the Boston City Council. Basically if the Mayor is out of town... Michelle Wu is the Mayor. I just feel the need to reiterate this because I have  talked to people and they get the impression that Michelle Wu just represents Chinatown. Michelle Wu is President of all the people who represent  different districts in Boston. Unfortunately I didn't get a good picture of her.

Besides my story is actually more about the performers. 
This is Liu Tai, (Mrs. Liu) who belongs to the Kung Fu Dance Group. They along with the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center were the performers of the day.

The reason why I want to focus on Liu Tai is because I know her from my dulcimer days. Her daughters and son and I were in the same group. "I've seen him grow up from a tiny child!" she said to a fellow dancer in Chinese. 
"Don't say that! Then you give away your age!" was the reply. 

I just think it is kind of cool because as Liu Tai laughed, "I'm now doing what you all were doing!" A

Wlater Apperwhite, who is the director of Constituent services was behind me and commented  that when he watched these women (and some men) dance he thought of his father, and how it is difficult for him to walk up the steps. "That sort of mobility, where she is standing on leg and getting down real low like that. That is amazing."

It made me think that this sort of thing would be good to push out into other communities. (but more on in later posts.)

Last day of the Spring Festival 2016!

Hi all!

Today is the fifteenth day of the Lunar New Year Spring Festival and it is the final day of the celebrations. However, it is still the Chinese New Year season! So enjoy it while you can.

This is a picture of a dish that has Fat Choy (the black veggie) and cabbage and oysters. I didn't get to try it but I had my mom make it for me at home without oysters. :D

This was just yesterday in the CCBA Chinatown New Year's Parade and it was taken by my friend.

This post is to wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous fifteenth day of the Spring Festival and to get you guys excited for more posts that I will write soon. My hands hurt from cymbaling all day yesterday so I will go to the YMCA to work out and swim now! 

P.S. Leave me a comment so I know you're reading my posts... Talk to you all later!! Thank you for reading. :3

99 gwai 1: A Chinese New Year Mystical experience

Every Chinese New Year Parade has been a mythic experience for me, starting with the first one I can remember, and believing with my 4 year old mind that the lion head coming into a bakery was going to eat me.
(Photos by Elizabeth Lee)

As a lion dancer, the fatigue, I think is part of the experience, as well as the breathing in of gunpowder. Maybe during the experience, it isn't that mystical, because you are getting things done. But afterward, when you go to sleep and have strange dreams your mind processes these images differently.

Was this year special for me? I think so.

Past years I have been really considered with my team. With Face, With Yi Hei. With ritual rigidity.

This year?

I will tell you that this year I was guilty of breaking many ritual rules. What rules? Like putting the head down when I shouldn't, rules of boundaries between teams, rules of when to pick up the lettuce and orange. This year I broke these rules as if I were a child doing lion dance for the first time.

I let my guard completely down in terms of alertness and awareness of where my team was in relation to other teams.... because I had this sense that something else was happening that was of even more significance. To compare it with Western Christian mythology... I would say it isn't like the old laws were being wiped clean away, but rather that they were somehow being fulfilled.

Maybe this experience is just from my perspective, but I bet that other people had a sense of it too and part of it is because of the fact that the weather was crazy last week, and behind the scenes a lot of the teams sort of banded together to push for it to be cancelled, and then this week the weather was gorgeous. That is just coincidence. But it is human nature to take coincidence as a SIGN and find MEANING in it.

In the beginning of our dance, we were less organized than last year and wasted some time finding ourselves. I was in the head, and I was wondering, "Is it that we are short people this year? Or is it that I just don't care?" There was this feel good feeling that we weren't doing this for the Hong Baos.

And then, as the day progressed I encountered aspects of my PAST, Present and FUTURE.

Earlier on the blog I had posted some pictures my mother had taken as a baby. One picture was of a young man. I didn't recognize him because the truth is I have only a handful of memories of my father. But.. he was introduced to me and we talked. while I held a lion tail.. mid performance. This is what I mean by rules. It's not okay to get out of you lion tail during a performance. But if you are getting out of the lion tail to meet someone who knew you father and mother, maybe better than you knew them.. then it's okay.

I met an old student of mine. The last time I saw him in person he was 8 years old or so. Now he is 18 or 19. I kept flashing back to him playing the baby head on Chinese New Year. Now I was his tail or filming him playing the head. And then my mind wandered to my own son who would be joining us at the end of the parade to do the baby head. I thought of Norman, the man who I met, and how maybe the last time he saw me, I was four or five or maybe even 3.

There was another instance when we met up with Wong Keung and did a little greeting. An old student of Sifu's came over and told me the rules of how to perform this Chiang. The truth is, I knew the rules already.. but I also knew, that most likely they would not be followed because the young kids were going to get their turn on the head and it was too much to try and teach them right now. Aspects of the rules would be followed. But stuff would be broken as well. But the spirit of togetherness and meeting up would over ride that. Now was THERE time, because if not now than when? I got his speech about the rules on camera, and the can watch that speech for next year.

After all the first Lion Dance, was probably done without many rules, and then more rules were developed. Over time some rules have been lost. But by passing on the art to a new generation, new customs and old customs (the good ones) can be brought back.

At the end of the day my son joined us and got plenty of lion dancing in. He ate oranges and sipped Boba. He had his Chinese AZN cultural experience. He was schooled on the rules by a parent who taught him the importance of order by age. The older lion's eat first, then the younger ones. It was hillarious. I should have gotten than on camera. But it was the passing down of a Chinese cultural norm, in a super American way.

We did lion dance at a bar and a whole crowd of Irish looking children greeted the lion heads. It felt like we were all one people celebrating a traditional holiday, and it didn't even matter where the origin was from.

They say that on St. Patrick's Day everyone in Boston is Irish.

In the future, on Chinese New Year, will everyone be Chinese?

In one of my first interviews on this blog I interviewed Hing Yee and he talked to me about this philosophy. 99 gwai 1. 99 Things becoming 1 thing. Not 99 things becoming 100 things. but 99 becoming one.

I had the sense that the whole world was moving toward that yesterday. (Maybe it was just me) But with the warm weather and the cheerful attitude of everyone, that's what it felt like. Like 99 things or groups, in other words a whole bunch of different ideas, factions, points of view... people who had been separated by time, or race, or opinion... were being pushed, nudged and corralled, Firecrackered, drummed and danced into ONE thing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Church Condo

I took these pictures a while back. I saw that they were doing construction on the Church. I thought it was renovations. But actually it was for condos.
 I saw this video on Facebook.

So you may ask why this South End Condo is on the Chinatown Blog. 

Actually according to Amy Guan, Chinatown Old timer, these Castle Square Projects (where I grew up) are part of Chinatown. Why? They were built  to house people displaced by the highway that knocked down one of the On Leong Towers and a whole community of Chinese and Syrians. That's why they even exist. You'll notice that a lot of stuff in Chinatown.. in the center of Chinatown is referred to as the Theatre District... even though there are no longer any theaters there. But that is unmistakably Chinatown. On the flip side, there is a whole neighborhood in D.C. with Chinese writing on the signs and businesses. The subway stops call it Chinatown.. but it is obviously not. 

Here are some pictures of the Castle Square. It looks really nice. Maybe these units are already Market rent condos. 

But this used to be pretty Ghetto

And then on the other side of this unit (which I grew up in) you will look out the window and see the Church... which is now Condos. I think that represents the changes better than anything because, on the one hand, the Church must have been sold because not that many people go there anymore. The new Condo is really nice and they didn't just knock the Church down. But I actually ran into some Catholic Classmates coming out of that Church when I still lived there. I was surprised, but even in high school I noticed people walking in the neighborhood that you wouldn't have noticed before. Was it that you could tell they were of a different class? Not exactly, there were still rich people walking around before. But they sort of looked like they belonged.

My classmate actually came down to hear Mass in Latin because that Church had permission from the Vatican to hold mass in Latin. Kind of makes me wish I had gone to just ONE mass in Latin, now that it is gone. So you see, he might be sad to see it go, but at the same time there are good things about the fact that the architecture of the building will stay in tact, and it will be used. Catholic Churches are largely empty around Chinatown. (Evangelical Ones are bursting at the seams.)

Do I feel sad about the church? Not really. Because I'm not a real Catholic. (but I am technically Catholic) We'll be talking about Religion and Chinatown in later posts too btw. There is a lot to be said there. But I need to find people that will talk to me. ) But I can see how someone who went to that Church and moved away, and came back to find it was now a Condo. would be shocked. 

The building next to it is an old people's home (or was). A buddhist and a Taoist group had rented their function room. That was the closest thing to a Buddhist or Taoist Temple that I know of in Chinatown.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Stuff to do on Sunday Feb 21st

So not only will the parade be on this day, but there will also be the Chinatown Mainstreet's Cultural Village again. The weather will be great.. .but sometimes kids are afraid of the lions and firecrackers, so it's a good idea.

The Polar Vortex and the Parade Part One: Better Late than Never. (On Incremental Decision making and Common Sense)

One thing I remember clearly from a Public Administration class in College, is the idea of incremental decision making. Politicians like to make a plan, and then stick to it, or at least they like to say that. Deviating from the plan can be seen as weak, or flip floppy.

But the truth is, that is a horrible way to lead.

The textbook example was about some O Ring malfunction on the Challenger. Actually I don't remember all the details. The point of the story is, NASA scheduled a launch. There were a lot of pressures to launch on time. Political, financial, media, whatever.

In the end they launched and the rocket blew up.

So what the hell does this have to do with Chinatown?

Well, the Chinatown Chinese New Year Parade was going to be last Sunday instead of February 21st.
On Friday it came on the news that it was going to be Polar Vortex or whatever.

"They need to cancel that parade." Grace told me.

I shrugged. "Yeah sure. But they won't"

"I'm going to be writing to Marty Walsh and Michelle Wu and all of them."

"Yeah sure go ahead."

"You and Jing best be doing that too."

"You do what you want. You can use my name if you want but don;t use the school's name." (This would later become an in-family issue. Grace went and did her thing but it didn't look like it would do anything.

"Well you should write about it on your blog."

"Yeah sure, when I'm done with my other stuff."

The next day was Saturday. I got a call from Ching Imn, founder of Gund Kwok, that all the teams should call Uncle Paul, President of the CCBA to try and persuade him to cancel.

"Call him? I'll email him a link to my blog. Okay I did it. Wait you want me to call him? Yeah alright I'll call the CCBA sure." I was sort of bewildered at the idea of calling the CCBA to tell them what they should do. Mainly because, that's usually not how we do things. I sort of was calling more as a blogger than a lion dancer. But as I began to hear Polar Vortex and frostbite danger on the news. I sort of began to think more like a parent and less like the inner teenager I always am during these parades. This wasn't about whether I could make it through the cold. I knew I could because I would be wearing adequate clothing. But other people wouldn't be.

I used social media and talked to a bunch of people, and got an e-mail from Uncle Paul that because of all the moving parts, they were going to go forward.
"Yeah okay." Sure what do I care. I didn't really expect anyone to cancel anyway. I remember a cold Chinese New Year about 10 years ago or so. I got a little frostbite because I was the only drummer and I was standing on a truck (It turns out trucks are cumbersome for Chinatown Lion Dances). I did Chinese New Year with a broken foot one year. Big deal. I tried, whatever.

Then the Temperature dropped. Holy crap. The cold was theoretical before. But now you could see it was a reality. It looked foolish to cancel now. But I did not believe that anyone in their right mind, who stepped outside NOW would consider continuing with the parade.

Then I got a phone call from one of my teammates.

"Are we still doing this shit?"

"Well.. Uncle Paul."

"Oh no, this hasn't got anything to do with Uncle Paul now. This has to do with you. What do you think? Are you bringing your son out?"


"I didn't think so."

He then began to list in vivid detail all the concrete reasons why going out would be fucking insane.

"But if you guys say yes, then I'll do it. I've done stupider shit than this. Truth is you should have threatened to pull out this morning."

It dawned on me that, indeed I had given away all of my power, by asking this and asking that, hat in hand. When the truth was, as a responsible parent, of course we should pull out. Grace knew it on Friday.

I talked to more people.

In the end, the way I hear it, Captain Fong (Thank God for Captain Fong) pulled out. In other words he said, "you won't get any detail officers because I'm not sending my guys out there in the cold."

Now that's saying something. If it's too cold for cops, it's too cold for young children and elderly for sure.

And that is when Uncle Paul decided to cancel.

Cancelling at the last second looks indecisive. Maybe he should have cancelled on Friday.
But think of that Rocket launch. If they had cancelled at the last second, even though it would look stupid, there would be some people who are now dead, that would still be alive.

You can say the same thing about last Sunday. Cancelling last minute might be inconvenient and it does give evidence to the fact that you should have cancelled earlier. But, nobody died in Chinatown on Sunday, and nobody got fingers and toes removed. Nobody was hospitalized that I know of... and that could have been a real possibility.

This was a huge learning experience for me. Because even if I question leadership, I never have outright gone against it even when my own common sense told me too. In fact I have several examples of Chinese New Year incidents both in Boston and New York where I did what I was told, when I should have done what I thought was right. In fact, in life, there have been a few times when I didn't listen to my gut or common sense, but instead chose to follow the responsible leader, who in the end, was actually not acting in my interest. Although I yelled at them, I still did what I did, and the inconvenience or consequence is my own.

However this is the first time such a thing happened so publicly. So it is a good example of something to point to, A reference point. Plus weather doesn't look at political factions, and that makes this something everyone can relate to.

Have I "learned my lesson?" I'm not sure. There are many times I have not learned my lesson. I feel like I am constantly in the process of learning my lesson, and yet struggling with it.

No matter what, as one of the other team's members said regarding the call to cancel at the last minute.

"Better late than never."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Kung Fu Dad: Kung Fu Panda Three: Recap

I went  to watch this movie in between Lion Dances I had yesterday.

I had to rush back to Leurng's Association Banquet where I played gong. Did I really need to go back? I felt like I did. I mean after watching all that Kung Fu I had to rejoin my team for another Lion Dance and hang out with my Kung Fu brothers.

After all, there is plenty of family time this week.

Kung Fu Dad: Kung Fu Panda Three: Recap: Spoiler Alert? Yes I guess so. But really the plots are not that hard to guess and this is more about the meanings of the stories. (Intende...

Stuff that still happened on Sunday: Chinatown Mainstreet Cultural Village

The Parade was cancelled but there was still stuff that happened today.

Woo Ching White Crane happened to be doing an event at St. James, and so we were available for two cultural villages that were in Chinatown.. indoors of course. It was actually kind of fun.

Here are some pictures from Chinatown Main Street's event

This is actually not a team. They are heads that people could try on.

Chinese Folk Dancing. Another one of our contributors will be posting a video and will be talk more about these dances.

Quite a big turnout

And that's me in the red head and my boots again.

(Photo Credits, Courtney and Gilbert Ho)

Gentrification and revitalization really weighed on my mind after these events. For instance, there was a lot of great interaction between people of different races at these events. Isn't this great? what's so bad about this. 
And I tried to spread the word about Chinatown blog, but interestingly I got some push back by non Chinese who said, "Okay you do the blog even though you don't live here any more." And it was great to have this great conversations with different people but once I started asking certain questions, even of my friends, there was a lot of tension that came boiling up. 

For instance one woman said, "Yeah it's way better now, before we went to the theater district and I asked my friends to go over to Chinatown for some food and they said, 'no you'll die.'"

My friend responded, "No it was never that bad, I've never felt unsafe in Chinatown, we grew up here."

I wonder if part of it was more about perception. 

But I feel like this interaction only happened because we were all taking pictures with a lion head, and we seemed approachable. We need more events like this so more dialogue can take place. But the hook to bring people in can't be political. It has to be something cultural like lion dance or music or whatever and the mood has to be relaxed so people feel free to let comments out that they normally wouldn't so we can get an understanding of each other.  

But the mood for the day was all about celebration and happiness.

In a way, even though we didn't do the Chinatown parade. It felt like we sort of did Chinatown. Three dances in the morning and then the Leurng's association at night. A lot of those banquets usually have politicians show up to them. Tackey Chan, Donald Wong (who is also a Kung Fu Sifu and we may be getting an interview later on with him.)

But some rising stars were there like Nina Liang and Diana Hwang, and I really hope to have interviews and posts about them soon too. 

Things to do in Boston during Chinese New Year season

Happy Chinese New Year season to each and every one of you! I will give you guys a few recommendations for things to do in Boston during this time of year. So these things will be different from the typical parades and banquets that you may hear about so let's get started. 

This week happens to be Public Schools vacation week so check out winter camp at Frog Pond for free ice skating, giveaways, and a super monstah slide! (The slide and giveaways are only tomorrow).    

So next up we have places to volunteer at but off the top of my head I can only think of the parade next Sunday and a banquet on March 4th. 

I would also just check out the new stores in Chinatown such as Spicy World, Five Spices House and the vegan takeout place that's similar to My Thai Vegan Cafe. 

As for activities I would try out some classes in the area such as Chinese Folk Dance, Dulcimer, Er Hu, Gu Zheng, Kung Fu, Taekwando, and Qi Pao Dance. I would also check out the pool hours at the Quincy School or the Wang Y in general. 

That's all I have to say for now; ttyl!

-Heunxiao Hongston 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Let's Make a movie!

So I interviewed Bob Halloran for his book about John Willis. And Warner Brothers is making a movie.
I totally think I would make a good Boston White guy who is a Chinese Gangster so here is my audition tape.
It contains some adult language so no children please. 
Of course I do not have any rights to John Willis's story etc. 

However as I think more about it... I do have the rights to my story. And I never sold drugs or did really bad shit... but if I was just making a movie.... who cares? I can just make shit up.

I mean, I already have published 3 books and the character Peter, in Kung Fu in Love, is basically a nasty angrier version of me. I mean wouldn't it make the movie cooler if this White Chinese Gangster also did Kung Fu? Why not make the Kung Fu somewhat fantastical too? Why not incorporate lion dance?

One could ask "Why does the main character have to be white?" Well for me, it's because well, I'm white. Though in the script I have written, I am more the villain, and there is a Chinese guy that is the good guy, but still the white character is the protagonist. I mean I know all these people  who could totally play Chinese gangsters and know Kung Fu and do scenes. We have all these lion heads and prop weapons. I have a go pro... I even know some real directors and people who were in Hong Kong movies... but so far I have been too embarrassed to reach out to them. But I mean c'mon.. why not? Let's just do this for fun! Maybe the people who are making a similar Hollywood movie will see someone they like and hire them. (Maybe me?) 
Though most likely, they will get a bunch of people to be extras but still we can make our own movie where we star in it. Not a long 2 hour film. Like 15 minutes and then go from there and see what else we can do. It could be a stepping stone. Who wants in?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Chinese New Year Parade is Postponed until Feb 21st

I'm so happy this got postponed. I really thought someone would... well it ain't happening so it doesn't matter.

But if you are looking for something to do, Chinatown Main Street still has an event from 12-3 (indoors) at 2 Boylston.
(this will not be us tomorrow.. not that it's going to snow, it's just going to be cold... but we will be indoors for our dances.)

I believe East West Bank also has something going on around the same time. And we will be stopping by there as well for a dance.

Woo Ching White Crane will be performing at St.James Church, which has it's New Year's event.

And of course the restaurants and Dim Sum are still open.

So you can still come to Chinatown this weekend. But nobody will be standing around outside in -17 degrees -35 with wind chill.

Then we are still performing for Leurng's Association Banquet at Hei La Moon (I think, it's a private event.)

Anyway, I'll still be busy tomorrow. Chinatown Main Street also has some folk dancing which I am going to try and catch.

But We WON'T be waiting around in the cold. I really hope next week is normal weahther. (Maybe even nice weather?)

I heard some buzz about people wondering if this parade was on. It's postponed till the 21st. But there is still stuff to do. Spread the word.

Different norms for New Year's parades for Chinese and Vietnamese Communities

Tomorrow, Valentine's Day, is the big day in Chinatown. Because of dangerously cold temperatures the stage and the kick off, will start at 11am instead of 10am. The afternoon is supposed to be much warmer... but most teams will still start going around to the outer parts of Chinatown at 9am or so.
But Today, Wong Kerng is doing Malden and Quincy.
Watch Wong Kerng in Malden

(photo credit Andre Perez)
Okay so this picture was taken in Chinatown, at Xinh Xinh, which is now Cuong's Vegan...

(Photo Credit Ken Wong)
And this picture has nothing to do with Lion Dance but I couldn't resist. Ken made the suit himself. He pretends it's made out of foam... but I suspect that it is an actual real suit that can fly and he just doesn't want the government to find out.

I'll try to get some real videos of Wong Keung doing Lion Dance in Quincy and Malden up here once I figure out how to do that from Facebook, or find something floating around You Tube. They are performing these two communities, today, as I am writing this. 

There are a lot of interesting differences between how the "parade" is done in Malden and Quincy and inside Boston Chinatown. I think the main difference is that in Malden and Quincy, I think the teams just do it.... sort of how we did it in New Hampshire last week, except that the owners had to hire us to go all teh way to New Hampshire. Malden and Quincy have enough Chinese businesses that it is worth for the teams to go their and "pai teep" or hand out a New Year's card informing the business when they will be there. 
(is it still done this way? Do you think soon we will be moving to Evites?)

I've actually never done Malden or Quincy, but I have done Dorchester a few times. Again there was no kick off. We just "pai teep" and did it. We were invited in by their local Business Association (sort of like CCBA) and it was good when the presisent went around with us, but a few times he had other things to do and we went and Pai teep without him. Some businesses were not happy to see invitations in Han language, and we sort of only wanted to do it if we were invited anyway. We haven't done it these past few years. 

On the other end of the spectrum is New York. I've only done New York once and we just joined their Oak Tin association team.

In New York you actually have to apply for a permit and they can totally reject your team. Each team has like 6 detail cops and the lion heads from different teams aren't allowed anywhere near each other. Also, absolutely no fireworks. Part of the reason we went down was to do fighting forms. But at the last moment, it was decided that we shouldn't do any weapons at all because the possibility of someone getting hurt and getting sued or something like that. So there is a lot more red tape than Boston.

Boston, has detail cops and a set "parade route" and one permit from the CCBA. So some red tape. 

But yeah the first year in Dorchester, we just did it and we saw police and though there might be a problem because we were breaking all sorts of laws. Our entourage of cars included one truck and then a caravan of black Mercedes Benz's which looked gangster as hell. Being in High School, I thought that was awesome. 

The Police just waved and kept going despite lack of permits, all sorts of traffic violations, and firecrackers going off. I mean it's only one day, not every day. 

So what are Malden and Quincy like? I guess I should interview people from Wong Keung to get the full picture. 

If you're close by those communities keep your ear tuned for drum beats and firecrackers and just follow the sound. And if you take pictures or video.. post in the comments.

Happy New Year!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Should the Chinese New Year Parade be postponed?

Sunday is going to be cold. Not just uncomfortably cold, but dangerously cold.
Now I am not going to personally have a problem with this. Why? Because I am going to be wearing boots and sweaters and gloves.

Grace mentioned that it should be postponed and my knee jerk reaction was, "Anyone at anytime can stop watching the performance or stop performing to go into a restaurant and warm up."

In fact I thought that would be good for the Chinatown economy.

But Grace mentioned that there were going to be a lot of families and young children (yes including my oldest son) and they might get frostbite.

My response was,

"That's why originally Lion Dance was for Strong Men."

I guess I should modify that to strong adults for my GK sisters. But the point is it's not really for little kids to parade 6 hours. But defacto there will be kids there, and where as I will be watching my son, and then will be removing him from the parade (something I only do because Grace made me.. and for good reason... i.e. my judgement is not so great in these instances and I often allow Noah to be pushed too hard)

There are kids who are maybe thrown in our group. "Oh yeah go with them they are from the same ancestral village." and guess what, we aren't baby sitters. That's not safe when it's normal cold outside. On Sunday it's going to be abnormally cold.

So even though initially I was like ,"whatever" to Grace, after hearing that with windchill it will feel like negative 15-negative 35 degrees.. I am beginning to think she has a good point. But the teams won't quit. The City will have to say "hey guys let's do this next week instead."

Boston Chinatown reactions to "Fishball revolution"

(Photo Credit: Tom Grundy)

If you haven't heard about what happened here is some pretty intense video.

But what the hell is even going on and why? 

I asked a friend who lives around here but grew up in Hong Kong and even worked there as an adult as well. 

"The event happened in HK was nothing but a riot.  Brick throwing to police and media reporter is unjustifiable in any civil society by any measures.   I don't disagree with the fundamental messages raised by the opposition, that said their violence acts was clearly uncalled for and certainly will backfire.   After the umbrella movement, Hong Kong government failed and rejected talks with the opposition parties due to orders from the Central Communist Party leaders.   Chief Executive Leung is representing the communist party more than the people of Hong Kong.   He is the one should held responsible and accountable for this turn of event.   He should be resign due to the lack of leadership and low support rating....The government continued and systemically reject talks with opposition parties.   Some people especially the younger generation simply tired and fed up with the lack of improvements and willingness from the Hong Kong government.   They think the only way to gain traction and changes is through means of violence and disruptive social unrest"

My friend actually attended some of the peaceful protests a couple of years ago.. but in general people tend to view these riots differently.

Actually you might be surprised to know that a couple of years ago during the peaceful protests there were a few people handing out flyers to try and get support from people attending the double ten parade. Even within my own group (Woo Ching White Crane) there was a huge difference of opinion about it. Younger ABCs tended to be pro demonstrators. But actually American Chinese who have more ties to China than Hong Kong thought that kind of stuff was nonsense, crazy and just plain asking to get shot. They would always bring up Tianamen Square as an example. Basically it was, "don't fuck with Communists they don't hold back." and sort of, "just be happy you have some sort of capitalism."

I was sort of thinking, "Well at least their not bombing places. You have to let people protest otherwise they will turn to violence..." I mean I wasn't going to donate money or anything, but I feel like allowing peaceful protest or some sort of outlet among the people is important, otherwise when pushed against the wall (or when they feel like they have been) people start acting like they have lost their minds... and here we are.

I got a chance to hear the opinions of a high school teacher in Hong Kong through a friend and they were this.

Well, it's a politics issue since the rule of CY Leung, the hksar government have been ignoring the citizen opinions and blindly turning HK into another city like those in China. Some radical 'democratic parties' are formed and fight against the government. Honestly, without them, we will have peace but no democracy... The riots are rather shocking to me but they are effective in some extent to alarm the government... Unfortunately, it also lose some support from those neutral citizen who has no much attention to politics...
The responses of police are stupid as they just act like another gangster with no arrangement at all...
I myself go against the government as all drafting policies they are promoting or wanting to pass are nonsense.
We won't deny the riot of the radical parties were an organized one in Chor 1 (first day of New Year), but what else we can do to such a 'totalitarian-like' government

The first videos I saw coming out seemed to have been put out by the protesters themselves. But even in those videos I sort of thought the police looked restrained compared to what you might expect from China... of course we are still in Hong Kong. And frankly, in terms of a show of force.. well what would you think would happen in the States? In Boston we actually handled Occupy pretty well. And the Black Lives Matter protest on the highway, that was handled well too. But those protesters weren't throwing bricks. But we have had issues in the past with crowds getting out of control after baseball games. One young woman died when a police officer fired the tear gas to low and it hit her in the head.

I guess you could compare this to what happened in Ferguson... but there the press were arrested. That didn't seem to be happening in Hong Kong.

I asked a friend who used to work in law enforcement and he agreed with me but also offered these thoughts.
I believe the riot was because the gov't was shutting down street vendors. the bigger picture is if the gov't in HK is doing this then whats next.  Seems like the Chinese gov't is starting to invoke their "authority" in places where they will just piss people off.  There may be another influx of people and money to Taiwan
Money vs. Authority that's something to talk about, and might actually be the means to peace. I mean, Boston does not have an illegal night market. But if we did, how would we shut it down? With police force? Or fines. Also, if there is some sort of illegal thing happening because of a holiday, like I don't know, Firecrackers on Chinese New Year.. a cop could care less about that.. Well unless something happens. But they know that it's only for one day. My teacher friend mentioned that another issue was that the want Hong Kong to start teaching simplified Chinese in school. I mean that will piss people off, and also... who gives a shit?
But then again the textbooks in Puerto Rico are in English (I heard) even though the class is in Spanish.

I'm going to end with a quote from another friend who was born in Hong Kong and moved here when she was 9 years old.
So when I was a kid, I don't recall seeing news about people attacking police in public. There would be rally but usually peaceful rally. The younger generation is more outspoken.They express stronger dissatisfaction toward the government. My dad and bro said the those people are becoming more violent in the past two years

So why this turn to violence?

Well the voting situation was very unfair in a way. Esp to these younger generation who have eduction and can speak their minds, they wanted some sort of equality.
I can't blame them
In the states, for the most part, we know that in the end we can vote... but sometimes we get fed up too and think that are vote doesn't matter... but imagine if we couldn't even vote.

It hurts to see sometimes how they struggle because HK is such a good place.... And that's where I was born. And I don't want (anything bad to) happen to my friends and their families.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How to interpret the Nian

You know you look at the nian and you go, of course that's a mythical creature. Of course Chinese people back in the day were like, "It's a lion."

But in terms of mythical creatures, the Nian is not that crazy. I mean if you look at bones of mammals that used to roam the earth, even within human history, the Nian is not that far off.

I also also amazed to see a beast show up on a seal in England for the Frankenstein chronicles. The beast had bulls horns and a lion face and was in a kei lun bo type of pose. Did it look exactly like a Lion Head? Well you have to notice that the different styles of lion heads look very different from each other anyway.

Not surprisingly this beast in a BBC show located on the set of a Christian monastery was meant to be evil. In the legend the Nian isn't necessarily evil. It's just doing it's thing, and most stories have it good at the end. And most teams doing the dance (I think) are representing the good creature that is blessing businesses.

But a lot of spectators have come up to me to ask questions (the white guy is approachable to white people. Chances are I speak English) and they always assume it is more like Halloween and that the monster is threatening to destroy business and that the lettuce and oranges are feeding it like a pay off.

I correct them... but technically I have no idea what the original meaning was. I even suspect they might be kind of right in that first reaction. But for us. (and again I believe for other teams as well) . Our heads.. are noble creatures blessing everyone and  scaring the evil Nian away. (which is just another type of the same animal really even though some stories try to distance what we hold on our heads from it)

So.. the beast all the way over in England that looks like the Nian... is there something to that? Is there actually a shared story? I've heard that the Chinese Lion Dance is actually from Pre-Islamic Persia's Nervez.

I also thought about how you'd have to stretch it to actually believe that an actual Nian invaded a village and wrought havoc. (Though Tigers were always a fear... I'll blog about the Tiger Fork Tomorrow)

But when you think of the Nian monster as blight that causes crop failure.. or perhaps a sickness that wipes out a village... that happiness all the time, and the beast could be a mythical embodiment of the unseen (you know before microscopes and understanding of germs) phenomenon. I mean it's what other cultures do right?

I guess I only bring it up because Noah has strep (which you can also call Scarlet Fever)

I posted about it on Kung Fu Dad.

Kung Fu Dad: Strep Rash: Noah had a rash the other day, and I thought it was an allergic reaction. I was pretty quick to blame the Chinese New Year candy... because ...

And I think I pretty much get sick every year around this time... which makes you understand the "Sun Tai Geen Hong!" phrase in another light.. and honestly that is the most important wish because if you are a millionaire you can still be miserable with a cold. But while you don't always associate poor with happy, some healthy Monk or hermit , you know like Buddha, they seem just fine without the money as long as they have health.

Well Sun Tai Geen Hong everyone!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Chinese New Year "Opening"

Today is the third day of Chinese New Year and it is the day of "Opening" also known as 开年。It is not as big a deal as the Chinese New Year Eve family reunion dinner but it is still a special day. It is a great day of food!!! So, today's topic is going to be food in Boston's Chinatown. I will tell you about what I think of when I hear about that word in relation to our Chinatown. I think of Chinese style, dim sum, bubble tea, Vietnamese sandwiches, skewers, supermarkets, food trucks, and of course restaurants!

Let's go through that list then! 1. DIM SUM: My favorite is Windsor Dim Sum Cafe because they have the best in my opinion. Especially the 排骨粉!2. BUBBLE TEA: Also know as a favorite past time of all ABCs in the Boston area... But I love TeaDo, coincidentally next to Windsor. 3. VIETNAMESE SANDWICHES: I like New Saigon on Washington St next to Jia Ho Supermarket (which I will mention later). But their piña colada bubble tea shake is the best in town too. 4. SKEWERS: The newest trend is no longer at TeaDo but at Hot Eastern on Beach St in the basement of the food court where Avana Sushi is.  They have slow service but definitely worth the wait . 5. SUPERMARKETS: The best is always the smaller ones but I would recommend going to New York Mart and Jia Ho Supermarket for the discounted snacks! 6. FOOD TRUCKS: Wow Barbeque is a red truck that sells skewers that generally parks outside the China Trade Center on Boylston St. It is a must try! Last but not least, 7. RESTAURANTS: There are plenty and I will blog about more later but today's restaurant feature will be China Pearl because I live for the Chinese style banquets they have during this time of year but there's not that many. So check it out if you can!

{HeunXiao Hongston}

Josiah Quincy School Chinese New Year

I remember going to Josiah Quincy school and Chinese New Year being a pretty big deal The mayor never showed up that I recall (but maybe he did) I remember Mr. Walter Chan lighting firecrackers in the gym over a metal trash can and it was interesting because all the non Chinese kids would be freaking out but the Chinese kids were all used to it. Back then Chinatown would look like it snowed red after the parade. 

I vaguely remember some lion dancing but what really stands out are the memories of learning. 
Chinese New Year songs. Yeah there was that one.  And another one by "Jenny" who was mixed and it went Jook Fook nei, joy nei yut sung wui. Bak shuet Gong tau gong hei" or something like that. In any case I can't find it on Youtube. 

What was cool was that everyone learned the song. Later when i went to Nativity and my mom (who was white) packed noodles for my lunch and there was almost a Fresh Off the Boat moment, where another kid wanted to say "eww what is that" Keimani Bell, who was the biggest kid in are grade.. and could almost dunk, was like, "Yo shut up, that's lo mein that's mad good." And there was never a mention of it again. Keimani had gone to JQS for a year or two, and could therefore say certain foods in Chinese, say most of the really nasty swear words, in addition to "be quiet" (which was how  shut up was translated so you would always hear all these black kids saying the really nasty thing about your mother and then Mo Cho, as if those two phrases were equally as crude.

My point is, Keimani had absorbed some of the Chinese culture, and then stepped in on my behalf when I was about to be ostracized because my mother (who had also absorbed some of the culture) had packed me a lunch that was not the mainstream


(Photo Credits: Sherry Dong)

What I'm saying is these types of celebrations and cultural intercations are pretty important.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What to wear for the Chinatown Parade on Sunday Feb 14

Happy Chinese New Year!
This Sunday, the day of the big parade in Chinatown, is supposed to be the coldest day of the year.
So here are some tips from a seasoned Lion Dancer.

Wear Layers:

(Photo Credit Elizabeth Lee)

Just because it looks like I'm only wearing a silky Pajama like Ronald McDonald Uniform does not mean that's all I'm wearing. 
I'm the guy in the bear hat and I have a T-Shirt followed by a sweatshirt, followed by a sweater, followed by a jacked and then the uniform. 

For pants I have the under wear, the jogging pants, the swishy pants that don't let in wind, and then the yellow Kung Fu golden like pants. 

For shoes I may be wearing winter boots. 

As a young man I did not like the winter boots. In fact living in Chinatown I simply did not need them. I often wore Wui lik (wu li?) China style volleball/soccer/Kung Fu shoes on Chinese New Year... and just around in general. These got wet so I would wear wollen socks, so even if I had wet feet, I had warm wet feet. 

However 6 hours of warm wet feet is gross. The winter boots slow you down and make it harder to kick oranges... but I think that's what I'mm be wearing this year, because I am now a older man and for a larger section of the parade I will be standing or playing cymbals. In fact most of my time in the lion head will be the last few blocks, when the young men run out of endurance and it fall son the older Sifus to finish up. There will be no spectators for this (or very few.) 

Unless you are a young jumper planning on doing Lion Kings throughout the day (which is ill advised this year since it will be super cold) I suggest the boots. And even if you do the Kung Fu shoes, if you have parents or friends or a pit stop, plan for a change (if your team can afford it.) We are one of the smallest teams (if not the smallest team) out there, and having one person change his shoes so that he can better particiapte will help the team more than hurt it. 

But don't plan to take the layers on and off.

In year's past we hgad a cart to put coats and oranges and water etc.

That cart seems like a good idea. But actually it is useless. Once you put your coat down, it's cold. Carts are hard to maneuver. I just bring a child's back pack and carry water for multiple people in there (Again I am like part soccer mom, the young men will not have tim efor such a pack)

But in terms of hydration, just eat the oranges and the tangerines. That way you get electrolytes too. Eat them even if you don't feel like it just so you don't end up dehydrated. As for having to be sweat it out.

But I'm moving around I'll get over heated especially going in and out of restaurants, hot col hot cold hot cold.

That's right. So basically I wear enough layers so I am always warm. Remember there is a whole section by the stage where you will stand there waiting for the other teams. You won't be moving. You are going to be freezing. The Lion Dance Parade is not a marathon, or an hour of working out outdoors. It is six hours and a good amount of it is just standing around, follwoed by quick bursts of lion dance, and then more standing around. When you are drumming or playing instruments, as far as your body is concerned, that is standing around. So you have to be warm for that. Now I don't wear a heavy coat. I wear a light jacket, with a sweater and sweatshirt underneath. It is also probably a goo didea to have a change of clothes for AFTER the dancing is over. But expect to where the same thing all the way through. Remember, in terms of strain or real athleticism, Lion Dance is probably not as difficult or extreme as mountain climbing or skiiing. Not that I do those things. I just do lion dance. But if you dress warmly and remember to get fluids, (the easiest way is eating the oranges) then you will be a lot happier than if you tried to do it in a T shirt. We had kids that did that some years. But just for a short period of time and they had  their mothers to hold their coats for them.

Ear Plugs

Don't forget to wear ear plugs.
I recently filmed Hung Ching doing an opening so the firecracker part was unexpected. At the same time, since I was holding a camera I couldn't cover my ears. It affected me for a few days. Ear plugs are essential. I would say even spectators should wear them If you want to get close.


Dress warm and wear layers but maybe don't have an expensive outer layer. Why? The firecrackers do sometimes blow holes in clothing. Plus layers can protect you from that. Granted you will not be as close as the lion heads but still.

Spectators will not be jumping around so you can always dress warmly. But most people don't... because they can always also just go inside a restaurant to eat, and maybe you don't want all those layers to have to take off and be a hassle while you are dining.

This year there is also a little activity center at 2 Boylston put on by Mainstreet. That will be good for little children who are tired of the lions, or scared, or whatever. The teams still come in and do the Lion Dance for Gund Kwok which is housed there, and of course... Gund Kwok is also housed there and will do lion dance for themselves.

So to recap.

Hydration (for the active ones)