Happy Chinese New Year 2019. Year of the Pig

This new year has been another cracking one for all the lion dancing teams in Sydney. Chinese New Year fell on Tuesday the 5th of February. The performances on Sydney started the weekend before and will continue through until the 17th. This year I was lucky to catch a glimpse of a few other teams in Sydney and got to participate in a few shows myself with the Australian Dragon Style Kung Fu Association. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any of the Melbourne teams perform. One observation I’ve made for the Melbourne celebrations is that they seem to start early! Like St Albans kicking off their lunar new year celebrations on 6th of January which is almost a month ahead of the new year and Richmond belting theirs out almost 2 weeks before. Maybe the Melbourne teams can shed some light on that for me.

Trung Han Qun

First off the mark for me to see is Trung Han Qun. They did a wonderful performance for the Canley Heights Lunar New Year Festival. They brought out their LED dragon and a tonne of lions for a show that certainly delighted the crowds. I also caught a glimpse of them on New Year’s Day performing for the banks in Cabramatta. They were pretty much all over Cabramatta in the past week tearing it up with their beats.

Australian Teo Chew Association

I got to see their two lions prancing around John Street Cabramatta.

Qing Fong Lion Dance Troupe

A new team to the area. From my understanding, they’re a part of the Ming Yue Lay Temple (the massive Chinese temple in Bonnyrigg). I didn’t get to see any of their formal performances but I stumbled upon on their training session for the CNY eve performance at the temple.

Sydney Yun Yee Tong

They’ve kept their performances going at the Kwan Yin Temple in Canley Vale on CNY eve for as long as I remember. They had a few lions out dancing with the firecrackers on New Year’s Eve night and then kept the metallic gong dinging away in Cabramatta and surrounds over the rest of the New Years period.

Huge double layered horse brand firecracker

Dotting a new lion

He’s got the greens in his mouth!

I thought this was a cool shot of them tossing the greens.

Australian Dragon Style Kung Fu Association

My Sifu founded the Sydney branch of this school back in 1988. My Sije Linda revived the club a few years back and it has been growing in strength to strength. They’re still based in Cabramatta after all these years but the club has now relocated to the Cabramatta PCYC so check them out if you have the chance. We had a number of performances around Sydney where we could showcase our lion dancing skills.

Lions ready for action

Not quite jongs but the box jump is real!

Kids love lollies

Jin Wu Koon

I was lucky to catch these guys perform at Darling Quarter. They did a very neat job with the amount of people they had. The team worked so well together to keep substituting to make sure the dancers were fresh. It was good to see quite a few of them knew how to drum, play the cymbals, dance the head and do the lifting!

Chan Family Sydney Choy Lee Fut School

These guys always draw a crowd. I didn’t manage to see a lot of them this year but the little I did see of them was great! As always great lion beats and good to see a huge fraternity of the various Sydney Choy Lee Fut schools coming together for their annual Chinatown parade.

Not quite lion dancing but I thought the Chinese New Year decoration at QVB was awesome. It was a cherry blossom tree but instead of cherry blossoms they were made up of little stuffed pigs

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Indian firecrackers

Who would have thought that India has firecrackers too. And they’re just as loud as the Chinese ones. The only difference at least is that there wasn’t the usual big hexagonal bundle of firecrackers that you see with the Chinese versions.

The cost was 800 rupees or about $16AUD for the string

Firecrackers

I was fortunate enough to make it across to Macau for a few days over the past few weeks and filled myself up on Portuguese tarts, pork chop buns and other delicious food they had on offer. A big surprise for me was found in the Museum of Macau which is located in the fort right next to the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral. Inside, they have a wonderful collection of exhibits that showcase the history of Macau from the early Chinese and European (Portuguese) settlers through to the modern day Macau with its resulting blend of these two distinct cultures.

One of the exhibits was about the firecracker industry in Macau which I found quite interesting. From the exhibit “The firecracker industry played a significant role in Macau’s economy. The first firecracker factory in Macau was built in 1880. Growth in the sector meant that by 1910 there were already 7 factories, a number that grew steadily providing work for thousand of employees… In the early 1960s, the industry began to decline primarily due to problems in the market and the fact that young people were not interested in learning the trade… Macau stopped producing firecrackers in the early 1990s and now they are imported from various parts of China.”

It’s sad to see an industry come and go but I think the exhibit does it justice by giving us a glimpse of Macau’s firecracker hey-dey with its collection of different firecracker advertisements and packaging.

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Imagine the firecracker that was made in this exploding!!
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And if you are interested in watching a short historic video of the handmade process of making firecrackers in Macau. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA5QahZLss0 

 

The Pom Poms

I’ve been deliberating as to which pom poms I should use- an older set I already have at home (the silk fibres are a little squashed) or the newer set that I recently acquired in China. Although the older set has a few less balls and weren’t as full, the colours matched the colours of my head better so for now, I have chosen to use them. I will be back in China in the next few months so I’ll probably get another set that is newer and will work better with the lion.

My next consideration is how the balls should be arranged. I’ve been checking out plenty of other lion heads and getting inspiration from them. It’s interesting to see the variations where the medium sized balls are are placed in the inner ring around the mirror and the smaller balls placed in the outer ring of the mirror. In the end, given I had limited amount of balls, the best combination was not so much what I thought was the best but what worked best with the resources I had. In fact, the original LFC lion head only had one ring of balls around the mirror as well as a ring of balls around the horn. I decided to skip the ring of balls around the horn and instead added the second ring around the mirror.

Actually, now that I am looking at these images, the head is practically done!!! There are a few more finishing touches that need to be added that I haven’t done in the earlier stages like the pillow and the sequined trim around the eyes and on certain parts of the head.

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Bristle fur goes on

It has been a slow and steady progress making this lion but it’s all coming together with putting the finishing touches.
I started off with trying to use thread to sew the bristle fur on but my sewing skills were not quite up to scratch so after a while, my impatience got the better of me and I changed tact to using metal wire to secure on the fur

 

 

Lion dancing supply shops

For those of you heading to GuangZhou or transiting there and keen on checking out Ho Sing or 先聲 here are the details on how to get there and some photos of their shops.

浩聲 醒獅用品 Ho Sing

Address is: 138 Daxin Road Guangzhou; 廣州 越秀區 138 大新路
WeChat contact details: 18665096025. (They prefer to be contacted by WeChat)
Email: 2581781339@qq.com
Phone: 020 81861776
How to get there: Catch the Guangzhou MTR to Haizhu Square 海珠廣場 (line 6) and exit at B3. From there its a 10-15minute casual walk to their shop front on 138 Daxin Road大新路.
What they sell: Everything lion dance, dragon dance, unicorn dance related items. Lion heads, dragon heads, unicorn heads, pei yau, drums, gongs, cymbals, stands and carts, flags, dai tou fut, weapons, parts for lions (fur, beard, pom poms, eyes, mirrors etc).

 

 

 

先聲工藝扎作店 (China)

Address: 151-153Daxin Road Guangzhou; 廣州 越秀區 151-153 大新路
WeChat: 13794336011 (Prefers to be contacted by WeChat)
Email: han200102@21cn.com
Phone: 020 81872275
How to get there: Across the road from Ho Sing. Catch the Guangzhou MTR to Haizhu Square 海珠廣場 (line 6) and exit at B3. From there its a 10-15minute casual walk to their shop front on 151-153 Daxin Road大新路.
What they sell: Everything lion dance, dragon dance, unicorn dance related items. Lion heads- southern and northern lions, drums, gongs, cymbals, stands and carts, flags, dai tou fut, weapons, parts for lions (fur, beard, pom poms, eyes, mirrors etc).