The arctic temperatures did not cooperate with us last Sunday, but the celebration has been rescheduled for the upcoming Sunday on February 21, 2016 at 10AM!
Again, the event will kick off at 1oAM on Harrison Avenue in Boston Chinatown (near Kaze Shabu Shabu, Cha Time, Beard Papa’s, and Asian Garden Restaurant) with stage performances. Lion dancers will then go around with their troupes to all the shops and restaurants blessing them and bringing good fortune for the new year.
**UPDATE** Due to extreme cold weather, the event has been cancelled and will be re-scheduled. We will keep you updated!
You can never predict what Mother Nature is going to throw at you when the Boston Chinatown Lunar New Year Lion Dance Parade arrives. Like, that year it snowed and we lion danced on regardless. Now, we’re expecting temperatures that will be 20-30 below zero for Sunday, February 14. I guess you can add this to the list of assorted weather elements we’ve lion and dragon danced in.
If you should be so brave as to come out to watch us, please use caution!
A wind chill warning is in effect from 4PMSaturday until noonon Sunday. Wind chills will be between 20 and 30 below zero with temperatures falling to 5 below zero Saturday night into Sunday morning. Outdoor exposure should be limited.
We’re going to have our heat tech, thermals, hats, gloves, face masks, hand/foot warmers at the ready to get us and our amazing volunteers through this arctic blast of weather.
The event will kick off at 11AM on Harrison Avenue in Boston Chinatown (near Kaze Shabu Shabu, Cha Time, Beard Papa’s, and Asian Garden Restaurant) with stage performances. Lion dancers will then go around with their troupes to all the shops and restaurants blessing them and bringing good fortune for the new year.
It’s going to be interesting and definitely memorable.
As an Asian American filmmaker, I wanted to discover the inner strength of the Asian American women in Gund Kwok dragon and lion dancing troupe, where these group of women push their boundaries and keep their culture & identity at the same time. ~Mei Lei, filmaker
For the past few weeks, CHSNE have put up a wonderful banner display and posters illustrating the timeline of the history of Boston’s Chinatown.
The women’s lion dance troupe fact definitely caught our attention.
Boston’s first women’s lion dance troupe was organized to participate in fund-raising from the Chinese community to assist China in its defense during the Sino-Japanese War. The entire troupe consisted of eight girls, most of whom were only 11-12 years old.
GK is proud to help fund ASPIRE’sAsian American Women’s Scholarship which supports outstanding and community-oriented Asian American young women in her pursuit of higher education. This scholarship will be awarded to an Asian American young woman entering her first year in a two or four year accredited post-secondary institution in the amount of $1,000.
Help ring in the upcoming Lunar New Year (Year of the Goat) with the Gund Kwok Lion and Dragon Dance Troupe, as they parade through the streets of Chinatown and lion dance for the stores and restaurants, as well as perform on the main stage on Sunday, March 1st. Gund Kwok is one of 8-10 troupes performing that day. You also get to experience an unforgettable day of Chinese New Year sights, sounds, and smells!
Gund Kwok, the only Asian Women Lion & Dragon Dance Troupe in the United States, was established in February 1998 to give Asian women an opportunity to express their creativity, power and strength through performing the lion and dragon dances.
You will be assigned to be a flag carrier, crowd control person, runner, cart lugger, photographer, videographer, or helping with miscellaneous tasks.
You will get to borrow and wear a Gund Kwok hooded sweatshirt to identify that you are with the Troupe.
Please dress in layers and wear hats, scarves and gloves/mittens. Please wear black pants and comfortable, appropriate footwear. Ear plugs, hand and toe warmer packets are provided if needed. Please do not carry any backpacks or other bags on you – personal belongings may be kept at the GK “Den” (someone is stationed during the entire day to track the comings and goings of all volunteers and troupe members, and to keep an eye on your belongings).
Breakfast and lunch are provided. ALL volunteers are invited to stay for a free dinner that evening to thank you for your time and commitment (Restaurant: Hei La Moon, in Chinatown)
Days prior to the Festival, you will receive documents and information for the day of the Festival, including FAQ’s and Volunteer Role Descriptions, and information for the Gund Kwok Volunteer Liaison (your main volunteer contact on that day).
Take public transportation. Street parking is virtually non-existent on the day of the event.
MBTA: Green Line – Boylston Street T stop; Orange Line – Chinatown or New England Medical Center T stops, Red Line – Downtown Crossing or Park Street T stops.
We hope you are having an extraordinary summer! We are excited to inform you that the Gund Kwok troupe, the only all-Asian female troupe, will be providing lion and dragon dance classes after Labor Day. Come learn a centuries-old tradition while getting your workout on with a wonderful group of diverse Asian women! The key details are listed below. Please feel free to share this with your Asian female friends and colleagues who may be interested.
What: Lion and Dragon dance classes When: Every Thursday, 6:30-9:00pm from 9/11 – 11/13 Duration: 10 weeks (8 classes devoted to lion, one class devoted to dragon, and the last class will be your “graduation” performance) Location: China Trade Center, 2 Boylston St. (go down stairs to the lower level) What to Bring: Workout clothes, sneakers, water Cost: $100
During the 10th week, you will “graduate” from the Gund Kwok trial program by performing a lion dance with your classmates for your friends and family!
If interested, please fill out the form below by end of day Fri., 9/5 as to whether or not you will be participating in our trial classes — please check off the box for “10-Week Lion Dance Trial Class”. We can’t wait to see you there!
Our very own GK Founder & Troupe Leader was recently featured on PRI ‘s The World for their First Days Series, which features stories on what it’s like for immigrants in their first days in the United States, inspired by the South Asian American Digital Archives First Days project.
Cheng Imm Tan came to the US from Malaysia as a student in 1978. The way she tells it, her parents were against the idea, but she was determined.
She researched American colleges that had accepted Malaysian students before, and randomly sent out applications. Soon enough, she’d landed herself a scholarship from Wilson College in Chambersburg — a small town in southern Pennslyvania.
On the plane ride over, she remembers sitting next to a businessman.
“Aren’t you scared?” he asked her.
“I speak English,” she replied. “Why should I be scared?”
She touched down in Philadelphia and remembers an interminable three-hour drive to Chambersburg.
“I lived on an island that takes an hour and a half to go around slowly,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how far we had to go to get to the college.”
She’ll never forget her first night.
She was dropped off with a host family near campus. They showed her her room and let her settle in. A few minutes later, the woman of the household came upstairs to ask Tan if she wanted some supper. “Oh, no thank you,” Tan told her. “I’m not hungry.”
“Are you sure you’re not hungry?” the woman asked.
“Yes, I’m really sure. I’m not hungry. Thank you so much.” And then, to Tan’s astonishment, the woman said, “Okay. We’ll see you tomorrow then,” and she went back downstairs.
“I was like, ‘What?’ I was starving! In my culture you never let anyone go to bed hungry! You never let anyone come into your house without eating anything. You always feed them, and they always protest, and you always insist they eat, and this is a ritual. Eventually, everybody eats. I went to bed that night hungry!” Tan recalls.
Tan was in for another bit of culture shock when she got to campus.
Once she moved into her dorm, she wanted to take a shower. She was shown a bathroom with a tub, but no shower. “I’ll take a bath then,” she thought to herself.
Back home, in Malaysia, she was accustomed to taking a bath in a wet bathroom with a drain in the floor. She would fill a concrete tub with water and then use a pail to scoop warm water and pour it over herself. The excess water went down the drain. But this bathroom at Wilson College didn’t seem to have a drain in the floor.
“It must be American higher technology,” she thought. “There must be some way the water drains out that I don’t know about.”
There was no pail either. So she went to her room, retrieved a coffee mug, filled the bathtub and started washing herself the way she used to back home. Soon, she heard a knock on the door.
A fellow student called out to her, “Why is there water flowing out of the bathroom?”
She realized, with horror, there really was no drain.
“When I reflect on it, you know, it makes me laugh,” she says. “But it also makes me think, ‘Wow, wouldn’t it be nice if somebody knew enough to orient us a little bit more?'”
Tan says these were minor incidents compared to the larger challenge of understanding how people related to one another, and the pain of isolation she felt in her early years here.
She went on to study at Harvard Divinity School. A professor there helped her realize that some of what she was experiencing, especially her sense of being invisible, was actually the result of racism. She remembers thinking it couldn’t be racism because she was Chinese.
“What I didn’t know is there are many faces of racism,” Tan says. “I didn’t know about the history of Asians in this country. I didn’t think racism existed against Asians ,and particularly against Chinese people.” Tan says the experience politicized her. “When you begin to understand the different ways in which people are marginalized, and you have a structure and a framework to understand it, you want to change it.”
Tan ended up settling in Boston. She became an ordained minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church. She made a career as an advocate for women and immigrants, most notably as founding director of the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians, helping immigrant communities “move from the margins to the center.” She also founded the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, started a food pantry for the Asian community called Ricesticks and Tea, and leads the much-loved Gund Kwok, an Asian Women’s Lion and Dragon Dance Troupe.
It seems fitting, after the ordeals she weathered during her first days in the US, that Cheng Imm Tan has now launched a private coaching practice to help foreigners integrate into American life.
“Immigrant communities are the core communities of the American psyche,” she says. “Every generation of immigrants has come because they have a dream and a vision. Without that dream and that vision we wouldn’t be the country we are today.”
Before Gatsby, a 1918 trade catalog for children’s clothing recommended blue for girls. The reasoning at the time was that it’s a “much more delicate and dainty tone,” Finamore says. Pink was recommended for boys “because it’s a stronger and more passionate color, and because it’s actually derived from red.”
To our 21st century ears, all this men in pink stuff may sound a bit blushy. “It’s so deeply entrenched in us and our culture,” says Finamore. “We think of pink as such a girlish color, but it’s really a post-World War II phenomenon.” READ MORE
Astounding how things can change so drastically and become so ingrained.
Last week, NPR reporter Hansi Lo Wang visited us at “the den”, aka our practice space in Chinatown, to work on a story featuring…us! We were in the throws of rehearsing for the Lunar New Year so he got to see first-hand all the insanity.
The story aired earlier this afternoon:
‘Still Turning Heads’ At Lunar New Year, An All-Female Lion Dance Troupe
Lion and dragon dancers are set to parade down Chinatown streets around the country again with the Friday start of another Lunar New Year.
You’ve probably seen these traditional dance troupes in Lunar New Year celebrations, performing gymnastic feats under papier-mache lion’s heads, and swaying cloth dragons aloft on poles – all to the pounding rhythms of cymbals and drums amidst a flurry of crimson firecrackers.
But Reverend Cheng Imm Tan’s troupe is redefining the Lunar New Year tradition. She formed a troupe in Boston almost 16 years ago under the name “Gund Kwok,” Cantonese for “heroine.”
“I think everybody thought [at first], ‘Oh! What a cute idea! Let’s give it a try.’ I don’t know that anybody expected us to last this long,” Tan says. “We’re still turning heads. People are like, ‘Wow! They’re women!'”