Monday, February 19, 2007
Following the Dragon at Chinese New Year
Last year me and my assistant, a girl I bar-fined from G-Spot, were fortunate enough to stumble upon some dragon dancers who walked right in front of us in Chinatown.
The first day they led us to a small Buddhist temple in an alley where they performed just for us and the resident monks. They would bow to the Buddha statues in each of the four walls.
The next morning another (and more skilled) dragon dancing troupe passed right in front of our taxi and led us to the central stage for the national media and government big shots. The cultural commissioner's wife was happy to see the Hawaiian media present (although I had no media passes, only my Art TV Hawaii business card) and told us about visiting Hawaii for a formal tea ceremony earlier in the year.
All the media would run up upon the stage to shoot the commentary by the bigshots and retreat for the dancing. I could see what was happening and was able to place myself in ideal spots to shoot the entertainment, all the time thinking the network TV crew was going to bump me from my vantage spots.
It opened with some beautiful Thai dancers, whom I was able to get backstage before their performances and shot portraits of them putting their makeup on. Then the dragon dancers would jump rope with the dragon body, roll on the stage with the dragon body above them, and even get on each others' shoulders for a rotating spiral effect with the head held up high in the center. And the lion dancers then danced and pranced on top of poles above the audience.
After the formal presentation was over, we followed the dragon across the street where they performed for the masses of spectators of common people. My assistant was very impressed with how I was able to get in among all the big-time media and government officials inside the ropes, right to where the action was. And the cultural commissioner's wife invited us back the following evening to see the queen who was suppose to attend, but I had enough of the crowds, all wearing red shirts for the occasion, and just wanted to get laid by my assistant.
So the motto of the story is to "Follow the Dragon," it'll take you to where the action is.
(bottom photo by Dean Barrett at this year's event.)