Chinese New Year wouldn’t be the same without the ear-deafening drumming and gong-playing that happen during the lion dance performances. However, did you know that behind those colourful lion dance costumes, there are a bunch of exhausted youngsters who don’t get enough recognition and appreciation?
On 15 February, a netizen who’s a lion dance performer in Negeri Sembilan shared a heartfelt confession on Facebook about how their community has always been associated with many negative stereotypes. Here’s the brief translation of what he wrote.
“Due to various reasons, many lion dance performers are often perceived negatively by the society and are often labelled as trouble-makers who smoke, fight or have tattoos. But what you don’t see is that these ‘trouble-makers’ are the ones who sacrificed their reunion time with their family on Chinese New Year to perform at your house.
“They perform under the hot sun while sweating profusely. Their hands are blistered from moving the heavy lion head around; their legs are tired and sore from too much dancing. Some get injured by the firecrackers while others are left gasping for air after inhaling the smoke from the firecrackers.
“On the first day of CNY, when you are playing cards and eating cookies in the air-conditioned room, they are working under the hot sun with empty bellies. You scold them when they didn’t arrive on time, but do you know how little ang pau they get?
“You can dress up in your new clothes and take a family portrait with your loved ones, but lion dance performers will miss this opportunity as they are going from house to house to perform. They won’t even have the chance to visit their friends and relatives.”
The netizen added that the only reason why these performers stay committed to this back-breaking role is that they want to preserve this precious culture that has been around for 1,000 years so that the next generation will have the chance to see it in real life.
“If you come across any of these performers, please don’t be stingy. Buy them some drinks or cheer for them. Be more understanding when they’re running a little late because nobody likes to be shouted at during CNY,” he added.
These are the unsung heroes during CNY as they sacrifice their precious time with their family to give us a cheerful celebration. Honestly, without lion dance performances, the atmosphere will never be the same. Don’t you guys think so?
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