Chinese Line Dancing

This entry originally appeared in G. Allen Wilbanks’ blog when I guest blogged for him, in June 2019.

A while back, my best friend and fellow author, G, asked if I could write a guest blog for his webpage. Being the dinosaur that I am, I asked what does it need to be about? Are there any criteria? What are my boundaries? Deadlines? G refused to give me a straight answer on anything. Whatever you want it to be, he said, casually, like that meant something. No boundaries and no deadlines. Perfect. Six months later, here we are. But I have a story to tell. An absolutely true story. Believe it or don’t.

Many years ago, I was providing a police presence at a sporting event on the University where I worked. I know that it was a Pan-Pacific tournament between the USA and China, and I remember it being a women’s volleyball event, mostly because my memory of the time is filled with young women in shorts and kneepads; I don’t really know what that says about me. Anyway, this was a day-long event with multiple games on multiple courts; I couldn’t begin to tell you how many games were actually played, but it seemed like a lot.

In between each set of games, the arena floor was cleared, country music would play, and a group of middle-aged, Chinese women in jeans and yellow T-shirts walked out onto the hardwood floor and began line dancing. I heard Achy-Breaky Heart way too many times (two?). After the second or third time they appeared, I moved close enough to read the red lettering on the shirts and was not significantly surprised to see Chinese Line Dancing Association of San Francisco. I asked one of my co-workers if line dancing was a fad in China and this was some way of honoring them for their appearance at our campus.

My co-worker simply replied, “Wes, I’m Korean. Why are you asking me about Chinese culture.”

I tried to explain that I wasn’t asking her as an expert on all things Asian, but I gave up, recognizing the playful dig for what it was, albeit a little late. We actually engaged in conversation with many other employees in the arena that day about the oddity that was the Chinese Line Dancing Association and why they were appearing at this particular, University hosted sporting event. Was it a fad (already discussed)? Was someone in the Association related to someone producing the event? Was it an organized crime thing (you want the event to be safe, you take my mother-in-law’s dance group)?

Finally, near the end of the day, I happened across the University building manager who worked directly with the production company managing this Volleyball Tournament.

“Hey, so why is the Chinese Line Dancing Association of San Francisco performing between each match? Is it a fad or does someone in production owe money to a loan shark?”

The building manager looked me in the eye and said, “The production manager told his assistant to find Chinese Lion Dancers.”

Thank you and enjoy.

  San Francisco Chinese Line Dance Association

 Chinese Lion Dancers

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