Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lions in the Richmond District

Ace and I were on our way to a hobby store on Geary when we spotted what we thought were Chinese dragons in the Richmond District. We hopped off the 32 Clement to see what was going on.

Members of the West Coast Lion Dance Troupe were entering all the Asian stores on the block and performing for the people inside. Four men on a truck beat a giant drum and clashed symbols as the lion dancers pawed the ground, stood tall and then crouched low, cocked their heads to one side, and made other charming cat-like movements for the storeowners and patrons.

In some doorways, a troupe member set off a string of firecrackers, exciting the passersby.

We saw one delighted storekeeper put money into a lion's mouth. But whether or not they were paid, the lions performed a dance for every friendly store on the block before taking off their heavy heads and walking on to the next gig.

Their website says the West Coast Lion Dance Troupe has won multiple awards and is devoted to keeping the traditional dance alive. I expect we'll see the lion dancers again when they perform in the Chinese New Year's parade. This Year of the Dragon began Jan. 23, but the parade--called the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia, one of the few remaining night-illuminated parades in this country, and one of the top 10 parades in the world--is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11, at 5:15 pm in my neighborhood--just one more reason I'm glad we moved to North Beach. :)

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