If you hear the clashing of loud cymbals and see colourful lions dancing upright in the streets, you know the Lunar New Year is here.
The dance is commonly performed during Chinese New Year to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits.
They are typically accompanied by flute and drum musicians.
Businesses and home owners usually invite lion or dragon dance troupes to perform a ritual for good luck.
However, these lions won’t be dancing at homes and markets this year, all thanks to the coronavirus.
Lion Dances Will be Banned at Markets & Homes This Year
To prevent crowds from forming, lion dancers will not be permitted to perform at many public spaces this year.
In addition, all dragon dances will be cancelled.
The stricter measures for lion dance troupes this Lunar New Year was announced by the Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation on Sunday (17 Jan).
According to The Straits Times, the national organisation issues the permits for “cai qing” activities.
Cai qing is a ritual in which lion dancers overcome obstacles to obtain green vegetables, usually lettuce.
But this year, no such ritual will be allowed in homes and residential areas, as well as coffee shops, food centres, and markets.
Performances will only be allowed in offices, factories, hotels, temples, and shops in mega shopping centres, as long as social distancing rules are adhered to.
No more than 50 people will be permitted at these venues, and they must observe the 1m safe distancing rule at all times.
Moreover, in venues where the lion dance troupes are permitted to perform, the number of performers is capped at 8 this year.
For this reason, all dragon dances have been cancelled as they usually require more performers.
All performers must wear masks, except for those controlling the head and the tail during the performance.
The booking process will also be a more tedious affair for the troupes, as they’ll have to submit daily schedules to the police.
A cai qing permit for 16 days costs $50 this year, down from $150 in 2020, excluding GST.
Troupes’ Earnings to Drop Considerably
Since most of the troupes’ customers are home owners and neighbourhood businesses, their earnings are expected to drop considerably.
One troupe leader told ST that his dance centre’s earnings will drop by $20,000 to $30,000 as a result of the restrictions.
This is because these troupes have to continue to pay for rental of transportation, storage and equipment.
Consequently, some troupes have decided not to perform this year.
Some of them are confused about the restrictions, which permits performances in large malls but not coffee shops.
As one troupe leader told ST: “What I don’t understand is how it will be allowed in shopping malls but not coffee shops when the crowds in shopping malls are so big”.
Sadly, our celebration of the Year of the Ox, just like many other holidays in 2020, will be a muted affair.
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