The Chinese New Year passed last Monday but Southampton’s celebration took place today on the ground floor of West Quay. The Chinese Association of Southampton (CAS) together with the West Quay arranged a two-hour long concert to celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Dragon. Chinese folk songs and dances were performed, as well as the traditional dragon and lion dance.
The West Quay was full to the limits with people crowding on the ground floor and along the glass fences on the upper floors to see the performances on stage. A dragon moved around on the ground floor, playing with excited children.
After ceremonial talks by the Lord Mayor of Southampton and Mr. Chang from the Chinese Embassy in London, the iconic dragon and lion dance, nuanced with heavy, loud drums and cymbal music, filled the platform. The fury dragon, clothed in bells and colourful, blinking eye lids, was manned by performers from the Waterside Lion Dance Club. The lion head waved, wagged and moved up and down like a roller coaster. The drums were deafening. After the show in West Quay the lion moved outdoors onto the main street to perform for curious Sotonians.
Andy Lai, the vice-chairman of CAS, says to the Wessex Scene that this is the seventh Chinese New Year celebration taking place in Southampton. CAS organised the first public New Year event in 2006, but this is the first time the celebration takes place in West Quay. 16 committee members, together with 20 volunteers, have planned the event in which around a hundred people participated. Andy explains the aim of this year’s event:
The aim is to share the happiness with other communities in the city and promote the Chinese culture. We want to see the joy and happiness from the faces of our fellow citizens.
Considering the huge number of Sotonians – children and adults from different communities – that turned up for the celebration, the happiness Andy and his team wanted to spread was ensured.