Tuesday, January 15, 2013

David Fong’s Lion Dance Brings Good Luck for the Year of the Snake

By Phyllis Louise Harris
January/February 2013

One of China’s most enjoyable New Year traditions is the Lion Dance designed to scare away evil spirits so that good luck will follow.

For more than thirty years David Fong and his family have performed this traditional dance at their Bloomington restaurant. This year diners can enjoy this good luck tradition Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 7, 8, and 9.

It is a family affair for both the dancers and the diners. Each year families with children are among the diners who fill David Fong’s for this New Year tradition to enjoy the rhythmic, colorful twenty-minute program. Dancing to the beat of the drum, cymbals and gong, the happy lion moves from table to table stopping to tease the children and making sure evil has been sent away.

Performers are always members of the Fong family sometimes including three generations. Two will don the colorful lion costume and three will play the instruments.

Dating back to the third century B.C., the Chinese lion dance is intended to impart a happy, cheerful celebration for the New Year and for other special events. In Northern China the lion is made up of several performers donning the colorful almost dragon-like costume. In Southern China is composed of two dancers moving quickly to the rhythms of the instruments. There are specified steps for the movements and performers work in unison to perform them correctly. The banging of the drum and the clanging of the cymbals and gong are designed to frighten away evil spirits. This allows good luck to follow, hopefully, throughout the New Year.

The special New Year dinner is a family style menu including dishes not usually available the rest of the year as well as the restaurant’s complete Chinese and American offerings. Each diner receives a traditional New Year red envelope holding a shiny penny and chocolate-dipped fortune cookies at the end of the meal.

Dinner starts at 6:00 p.m. with the Lion Dance at 7:00 p.m. The three nights are usually sold out so reservations are essential. Call 952-888-9294, David Fong’s Chinese Restaurant at 94th and Lyndale Avenue South in Bloomington. There is plenty of free parking in their adjacent lot. 

Read more about Asian traditions and celebrations in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on amazon.com. 

Buy online:  Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875