The 16-strong lion dance performers of the Chinese Association of Saipan had their work cut out for them last Friday, as they visited more than 20 establishments to perform the traditional Chinese lion dance to ward off evil spirits and welcome the Year of the Wooden Horse, literally with a bang.
The Lunar New Year started bright and early for chief organizer Rose Chan and Huang Hong, who is the de facto leader of the dance troupe. Among the businesses they visited included TSL Plaza, Century Hotel, Hyatt Regency Saipan, NIC Health, 9922 (11:30am), Canton Restaurant, Majesty Restaurant, Louis Vuitton, Kanoa Resort and Century Tours, Subway, Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, Micro Beach Hotel and Dollar Days, I Love Saipan, Duty Free Saipan, not to mention the private residences of ethnic Chinese on island.
Businessman and Chinese Association of Saipan director Ta Bu Kuy said the lion dance is deeply engrained in Chinese culture and they truly believe that it wards off bad vibes—if not spirits—in the coming year.
He said he had Chan and company perform the lion dance in half of his companies. Among the businesses that Ta owns are Chow Queen, Noni Saipan USA Pure Juice, Serenity Saloon & Spa, and the Micro Beach Hotel and Dollar Days.
“Kids really love Chinese New Year because they have new clothes and everyone gives them money in a little red envelope. It’s also full of family reunions. They also make plans for the next year. Also forget and forgive all those who made transgressions,” said Ta.
For Kanoa Resort general manager Mark Ratliff, the performance of the Chinese lion dance at the Susupe property was nothing short of amazing.
“Kanoa’s lobby entrance was adorned with a red entry arch that displayed three long red couplets that contained a happy, hopeful, uplifting message about a better New Year to come. Then began the ceremonial eating of the choy cheng or green vegetable, which is usually considered the payment for the performing group or, as I have been told, money to come. The green vegetable was placed under the entrance arch for the lion to ‘eat.’ Then traditionally the lion carefully approaches the ‘green’ to test it to make sure that it is safe and not a firecracker or other dangerous item. After testing on the left and right sides, the lion did a dance to ward off any others that may want to eat his ‘green’ and began to toss the greens to the crowd, with some bystanders grabbing the green in hopes of good luck,” he narrated.
After visiting Kanoa Resort’s lobby, the lion dance performers headed directly for the New Retail Outlet 880 and Century Tours. He said a very nice showing was on hand as Kanoa Resort wished all a happy and prosperous New Year.
At Canton Restaurant, the lion dance did the same routine outside the establishment but not before the two lions galloped around the restaurant—including the kitchen—as customers jockeyed for position to get a better a view.
After the lions devoured the “chi,” a Canton Restaurant staff lit what seemed like a 10-foot string of firecrackers.
Chan said their lion dance performances ended around 8:40pm and although everyone in the troupe was tired, they were also happy to have done their part in propagating a time-honored Chinese tradition of welcoming the New Year.