My Kung Fu class at Josiah Quincy Community Center runs from 1 -1:45 on Saturdays and it turned out that at 2pm My Si Hing's school, Woo Ching White Crane, was performing lion dance there.
"Bring Bao bao and bring the small head!"
Yeah sure why not, just walk over from me class.
Which means of course I brought my children to my class.
As part of the class I teach my students Nam Yi Dong ji Kerng, because I think it is important for confidence building, group dynamics, and when my students go to some event and the music comes on, they will be able to recognize the song and sing along.
Well lo and behold while we were waiting for my Si Hing's team to arrive, and my students were sitting there to check out what was going on, the song came on.
About the Chung Wah audience.. it had that new immigrant feel and energy about it. Kwong Kow always held their graduations in this same Josiah Quincy School auditorium and I couldn't help but comparing the two. This audience was smaller, less rehearsed and the Sound system kept cutting out so you couldn't even hear people speaking on the mic. But you could feel that energy of restaurant workers.. the hard working working class, here gathering together for their cultural school.. that feeling of pushing for the future, to get a foot hold, instead of say, just maintaining what was built generations before. Now it's not that I like one over the other. Obviously I am Second generation on the Chinese side and my white side has been here for quite a while. But there is that feeling of the new immigrant spirit, I don't know something about it.
"Do you want to go to Chines School here Shao?" I asked him. I mean after all, you will learn Chinese faster if you hang out with kids that don't even SPEAK English. If you hang out with other English speakers you won't be FORCED to speak.
In terms of being an audience member, I will say this.
As a kid in Kwong Kow I didn't really understand what people were saying anyway, especially the Taiwanese dignitaries who spoke in Mandarin. I just clapped like I was trained to do. So to me it would not have made a difference that the sound kept cutting out.
But I will say this. There were two women speaking, The young woman translating into English in the blue dress... well I am married with kids and to tell the truth I was to busy chasing them around while I was carrying the head to be looking too closely. Also it is possible that she may be too young for me to be looking as well. So I judiciously focused on my lion dancing job.
But I will say this, if I were a young boy in the audience, her beauty and her dresses tasteful but exciting cut would have been the absolute highlight of the whole event (including our lion dance) and I never saw anyone one dressed like that on stage at the Kwong Kow graduations that I can remember. In fact she probably would have been pulled off by her ear for her dress being too short. So I would say just by her presence, that this little celebration had a one up on the Kwong Kow graduations. Not that Kwong Kow didn't have beautiful women. But they weren't allowed on stage as MCs in dresses like that.
Our lion dance was me and Shao on the head. One of my old student's who is now a man, played tail. He said he didn't mind doing tail and he didn't feel like trying combos at the last second. Fine with me. After all, this gig was not paying much and I was just a guest not the host. To me it was just an opportunity to get Noah a performance.
After the dance, there was picture taking and my kids were seated on some teachers because they made good props. JOnah held and orange and smiled. He was really good at taking pictures. If anyone finds some in the newspapers or whatever, feel free to send them to me and I'll put them in the post.
After that we were out and me and the kids were picked up by Mommy. So I didn't watch the rest of the performances. I didn't feel like bringing the Go Pro and all that because it was too much with the two kids etc. I also didn't think to really try and get the vote out for Diana Hwang because here was a room full of potential voters and I really think most of them were local, unlike many Chinatown events. Though many also reside in the Mission Park projects which I believe are not part of the district Diana is running for.
I think in the future I may very well enroll my kids in this Chinese school. It seems held to gether by duct tape, but that grass roots just starting out feel has something to it that is lost once you start getting money.
The BCNC I went to is not the BCNC my kids went to.
A lot of people like to compare recent immigrant groups to older ones. Like talking of Linda Dorcena Forry running the St. Patrick's day breakfast, they will say the Haitians of today are the Irish of the past.
I would say that the Chinese Immigrants of today... are the Chinese Immigrants fo the past, because the are very much separate communities in a lot of ways. Perhaps another post later about what I mean in detail.