Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Of lions, and so forth

I went for a run around Happy Valley this evening, and tried to think of some tortured similies.  I started off with "A woman is like a library ..." but the only ending I could put on that was "... because she's often full of strange bearded men, trying to research things" and while that might be true in a limited number of cases, is unlikely to have universality.

But now I'm back, and rejoicing in the power of my new dehumidifier, capable of demisting bathroom mirrors in a trice. I think I've just about stopped being gobsmacked at the profound lunacy of the liondancing competition on Sunday.

I didn't really think it would be anything much before I went; after all, I saw the lion that came to the office last Chinese New Year, to gobble some paper cabbage that was hanging from the ceiling, and if it was going to be three hours of effectively lying to people about the dietary habits of big cats, I was determined not to be impressed.  Also, I'd just left a three hour harmonica recital at Hong Kong City Hall - you haven't lived until you've heard Dvorak performed on harmonicas.

So I was a bit shellshocked on the way to the Hong Kong Coliseum.  Perhaps it was going for a run in the morning, perhaps it was the aftereffects of three hours of Mozart via Ennio Morricone, perhaps it was going 24 days without coffee.  In any case, I wasn't in the greatest of moods to sit around through a series of interminable speeches in Cantonese.

Cantonese is a wonderful language, but if all you can say is "go straight on" and "over there, thank you" then hearing the life story of a lion-dancing judge in Cantonese is not going to light your fire.  And hearing the life story of ten different lion dancing judges is multiply so.

But never mind that - the lion dancing!
Lion dancing is basically two blokes in a very fluffy costume, like an over-the-top pantomime horse (sometimes involving electric lights).  But, as this picture doesn't show very well, they're doing it on top of dinner-plate sized platforms on top of six foot poles.  And unlike Dobbin in the usual provincial English theatre at Christmas, the lion is wheeling, spinning, and jumping to and fro between the platforms without any care for safety.

In between one man carrying another man and a ginormous lion head around above the ground, there are occasional slips and falls.  I watched slightly horrified as the Indonesian entry fell off and appeared to land on the cement floor, although they still carried on.  Tough, these Indonesians.

And being judged for the artistic value of being a lion. This consists of blinking, looking confused, and eating flowers.  Oh dear.  I did say that I wasn't impressed by the dissemination of untruths about the eating habits of lions, and I stand by that.

But still, there's something wonderful about seeing two grown men dressed as a big fluffy lion, leaping through the air.  And occasionally some stupidly big jumps:

One big leap...

In between some of the leaping, twirling lions, they brought out some very large, glow-in-the-dark dragons, plus a series of rather old ladies to perform tai chi or wushu (including a dangerous old man wielding an umbrella).


Then the New Zealand lion dancing entry came on, and fell off their platform three times.  They'd travelled a long way to fall off some poles, but sadly making a long journey is no guarantee of success.  Lion dancing is a harsh mistress.

After three hours of this, I felt it was time to go home and eat biscuits.  It had been a hard day, after all.


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