2004: The Year of the Monkey

UT student dancers help ring in Chinese Lunar New Year hoping to bring luck, happiness and prosperity

The Daily Texan, 26 Jan 2004


2004: The Year of the Monkey

UT student dancers help ring in Chiese Lunar New Year hoping to bring luck, happiness, and prosperity

By Jennifer E. Spencer

Daily Texan Staff

Eight Chinese lions danced in and around the Hong Kong Supermarket in North Austin on Sunday, hoping to bring luck, prosperity-and happiness to the new year.

"It's a new year's celebration that closes out the old year and looks toward the new year,'' said Asian studies senior Rich Simental, a lion dancer. "It washes aw ay the bad and prepares you for the good."

UT's Texas Dragon/Lion Dance Team performed a traditional Chinese Lunar New Year's blessing ceremony at the supermarket and surrounding businesses. The celebration traditionally takes place during the first new moon of the calendar year.

"Companies request us to go and perform," said lion dancer Linda Cao, a clinical laboratory science senior. "It's to celebrate the new year and chase away the evil spirits."


It takes two dancers to maneuver the brightly colored lions made of bamboo, wood, papier-mache and synthetic fur, said Anh Bui, a social work graduate student.

"They have to be importedf rom China, because they are so authentic," Bui said.

Their eyes are made of glass or plastic, and they have satin tails.

"There is also a round, circular mirror on the top of the lion's head to scare aw ay evil spirits, because they are so ugly," Bui said.

The dancers are accompanied by the beat of the drums, cymbals and gongs as they move the lions through the audience and into the stores where they are fed money to bring good luck.

The money gathered by the lions is used to buy equipment for the dance teams, Cao said.


Every aspect of the celebration is full of tradition, from the firecrackers, to the costumes, to the movement of the dancers, and the color red is never spared.

"Red is an important color, because evil can't cross it," Simental said.

The firecrackers are important, because the noise of their explosions is said to scare away evil spirits. They are wrapped in red and leave a blanket of red debris. 

"Lions are good luck," Simental said. "It's about planning for the future."